What Is Stretching? Stretching: Definition, Benefits, And How To Practice It

Stretching is a full-fledged sports practice that should be part of the weeks of every athlete or non-athlete for that matter. Dedicating one session a week to stretching is beneficial, if not essential, to the recovery of muscles and the recovery of the mind. Professional athletes will tell you: whatever the discipline, they have one, or even several unavoidable sessions.

The benefits of stretching

The stretching session must take place in a calm time, in an auspicious moment, during which you are ready to welcome this calm and enjoy the session. You need to be perfectly focused to reap the benefits.

Stretching has many benefits on the body and health, here are the best known.

Preventing injuries

During a sports session, the muscles contract under the effect of exercise. For the realization of the sporting gesture, we ask the muscles for a contraction, and therefore indirectly the bones and joints are solicited by “pulling on them” because the muscles are fixed directly there.

A stretching session relaxes the muscles that have been shortened, relaxes them, relaxes them, and also rests the joints above and below and thus relieves them. As you will have understood, we avoid muscle injuries such as strain, and tendon injuries such as inflammation or rupture but we also calm joint pain.

Be more efficient

By being more flexible and elastic, your muscles have a greater capacity for action and thus, you can lengthen the stride and run faster, or spread your legs wider to shoot a ball.

Generally speaking,

Stretching reduces pain, and therefore lower back pain, which is the evil of the century. It allows real relaxation by controlling the breath and by appreciating a calm moment, in full consciousness. It also allows having a refined and more harmonious silhouette since it slightly lengthens the muscles.

When to do a stretching session?

Preferably during a dedicated session, remote from strength, power, or intensity training. You will enjoy all the expected benefits and above all, you do not risk injury.

Chaining your stretching right after your sports session is to be avoided because as you have understood, the muscles are contracted and tense at this precise moment, they are not ready immediately to be relaxed and worked in the opposite direction.

Some tips to carry out your stretching session

Do some light stretching exercises at the end of the session to allow your muscles to relax a little so that they understand that the exercise is over and so that the heart rate goes down. But no more. These stretches at the end of sessions should be short and brief.

Of course, you should not stretch before a sports session (except gym or ballet), but we are talking about the warm-up. The best is therefore to perform your stretching session on a rest day, 1 time per week minimum, or even 2 if your basic sports discipline requires great flexibility, and this for 45-60 minutes.

How to do your stretching session?

Before your stretching session

Before starting your stretching session, make sure you don’t have any pain. Of course, stretching will pull a little, and you will look for your limits. But you must be able to breathe normally and above all not tremble.

Stretching is learned, like other sports, and it takes time to progress. You can’t go faster than music. There is also no miracle recipe to progress faster, only regularity and seriousness will allow you to progress.

During your stretching session

During your session, you will tackle passive stretching: these are the stretches we all know, those that play with gravity to stretch the muscle by going, smoothly, and slowly. You can dedicate each session to a muscle group and vary each week, or do whole body sessions each time.

Some coaches offer another technique that consists of stretching our limbs, then contracting and relaxing the muscles in a slow and controlled way, on the same principle as stretching. This technique is more difficult to master and it is advisable to be guided to start.

During your session do not neglect your back bottle, choose a good thick floor mat and very flexible clothes that allow a large range of motion. After the session, a hot shower, and you are zen for the evening.

Image Credit: Photo by Cliff Booth from pexels.com

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