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Stretching Tips
 
The aims of stretching are to gently lengthen muscles before and after any form of exercise, and to improve tissue elasticity / flexibility. If done correctly, stretching will help prevent injuries and increase athletic performance.

The following key points should be remembered
while stretching:

  • Begin with gradual mobility exercises of all the joints, i.e. simply rotate the wrists, bend the arm and roll your shoulders. This will allow the body's natural lubrication (synovial fluid) to protect the surface of your bones at these joints.

  • Always warm up the body prior to stretching, as this increases blood flow around the body, which in turn makes the muscles more supple.

  • After exercise, slowly bring your heart rate down before you begin stretching in order to avoid blood pooling within your muscles, which can lead to cramp and dizzy spells. 

  • If youíre wet and sweaty, take a bath or shower then stretch, as the hot water will help relax the muscles, and prevent you from catching a chill.

  • Never bounce whilst you stretch, unless you are doing specific stretches for certain sports, i.e. ballistic stretching for martial arts.

  • Hold the stretch until you feel the muscle loosen off, then repeat for a further 15 seconds.

  • Whilst stretching you should feel some slight discomfort, if you donít feel anything, then you may be doing the stretch incorrectly, or simply the muscle has eased off.

  • Stop immediately if you feel any severe pain.

  • Remember to breathe regularly and rhythmically, do not hold your breath.

  • If you have a bad memory, start with your legs, and work up the body, in order not to miss out any of the stretches.

Warm Up:  Your warm-up is the key to unlocking tight muscles, which is the cause of injury. Hold each stretch for a minimum of 10-20 seconds, breathing slowly through your nose, aiming to exhale out through your mouth as you ease into the stretch.

Cool Down:  Once you have finished any form of physical activity, you should gradually allow your heart rate and breathing to lower to a comfortable level, where talking can be performed with ease. Light aerobic exercise such as walking or easy indoor cycling are good, as both of these will allow you to hydrate yourself and also put on warm clothing.  Hold each stretch for a minimum of 10-20 seconds, breath comfortably, with deep breathes through your nose, and out via your mouth.
 

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