An Overview Of Stretching To Becoming Fit
Going through the multitude of ‘on line’ discourses on the benefits or otherwise of stretching it is difficult to separate and evaluate the numerous and contrary opinions expressed.
As a result we have decided that it would be helpful to our readers to give an objective and unbiased overview of stretching as an aid to becoming and staying fit.
There is absolutely no doubt that there are simple stretching routines within comfortable tolerance that are arguably essential preparation before embarking on strenuous exercise or sport.
These stretching movements help to gradually warm and loosen up muscles before the strains and shocks of running, twisting and jumping that might otherwise result in torn or sprained muscles.
This is the reason that all sports enthusiasts are recommended to carry out warming up routines that will usually involve some stretching of the muscles involved before play begins.
Stretching the back by simply standing or sitting upright with the shoulders pulled back, stomach in, chest out, will never do any harm whatever your age.
Good posture involves a degree of stretching and has the additional benefit of being easy to carry out wherever you are and whatever you are doing.
If you do no other exercise than practicing good posture, extending the arms, bending the torso, keeping the head erect and other easily performed stretches then you are helping your body to stay supple and avoid unnecessary strain on muscles and joints.
Stretching movements that you are comfortable with are a necessary prelude to running and other vigorous exercise.
More extreme stretching has provoked a variety of views from researchers, sports trainers et al.
Some are in the camp that expresses the view that
- over stretching is detrimental, that is stretching to the point where physical discomfort and a degree of pain is felt.
- the effects may reduce muscle strength and endurance and reduce the ability to remove metabolic waste that in turn affects endurance and increases muscle fatigue.
On the other hand possible benefits include
- lower risk of injury,
- slows down the onset of muscle soreness,
- increase in muscle flexibility
- helps improve the performance of runners.
Clearly the jury is still out on the benefits and downside of arduous stretching and much more research is needed before coming to sustainable conclusions.
In the meantime modest stretching is good, whether you are an active sportsperson, or fitness buff or even a couch potato.
If it’s good enough for your dog or cat or other animals to stretch out and extend their paws, then it should be good enough for us mere humans.
With animals in mind maybe stretching is the best exercise in the universe!
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