Movement of any kind is beneficial to the body, those who take pleasure in stretching and allowing their body to flow with nature benefit much from the habit. Stretching is a physical exercise that requires putting your body part in a certain position that lengthens and elongates the muscle or muscle group with the hope of increasing flexibility and elasticity. Stretching is not just for gym goers or athletes, it should be a part of everyone’s daily routine. It is single-handedly one of the best forms of movement to perform to help improve the overall quality of life, especially for the ageing population. The benefits of stretching are that it can increase flexibility, improves performance in physical activity by improving mobility and reduce the risk of injury and damage to the muscles and joints.
Now many forms of stretching can be done based on the activity that is going to be performed or one’s goals. The two forms of stretching that we will discuss today are dynamic and static stretching, both are equally important and have their place.
Before starting any form of activity, performing a warmup is crucial. Warming up not only physically prepares the body for movement, to prevent injury; it is also used to mentally prepare the mind for any form of physical activity. The goal of a warmup is to increase one’s heart rate and increase blood flow throughout the body as physical stimulation warms up the muscles. When preparing for physical activity during a warmup, dynamic stretches are best to perform instead of static stretches.
Dynamic stretching involves performing a movement in a controlled manner to progressively increase the range of motion through successive repetitions of that movement. This form of stretching is best for those performing outdoor activities and for athletes alike. The objective of dynamic stretching is to place the body through a similar range of motion to the exercises/activity that will be performed. Dynamic stretching has been shown to improve measures such as speed and strength in comparison to static stretching, which may decrease one’s strength output. Dynamic stretching can include motions that strengthen the core and places large muscle groups such as the legs and back through their full range of motion.
At the end of any session, a cool down may be required depending on how strenuous one’s activity was. The goal of a cool-down is to begin to lower one’s heart rate and body temperature. Static stretching is the most common form of stretching utilized after a workout or performing strenuous physical activity. It involves placing a body part into a stretched position, which elongates the muscles. Each stretch is to be held for a prolonged duration of time.
After exercising, it is advised to hold static stretches for 15 to 30 seconds, as stretching for longer than 60 seconds after a session can increase muscle damage and soreness. This does not apply to the older population, who would benefit from performing stretches for 60 seconds, whether they are performing physical activity or not. As there is a time and place for everything, static stretching can be performed in the morning after getting out of bed; as it is beneficial for aiding in recovery, improving the range of motion in joints and muscles, and improving postural awareness and overall posture.
So whether you are the rough and rugged type, and love paddle boarding or parasailing, be kind to your body and it will continue to serve you well into your fifties and beyond. For the gentle walker or bike rider, remember muscles under stress will increase in size. One piece of advice that an elderly who is ageing well will tell you is to keep moving. Besides waking early and communing with the Master, it is understood that time to exercise is important. Even if your employment involves heavy lifting or spending a lot of time on your feet, some of the major muscle groups may still be underutilized.
Strenuous outdoor activities may depend on muscle groups that help support the core, hence the need to warm them up properly and bring them back to their natural state gently after is extremely important. During each outdoor adventure, make sure your movements are smooth and not jerky. Stay hydrated and wear sunblock if necessary to keep your skin and muscles safe. The slate of outdoor adventures is increasing. Please check in with your doctor if you are suffering from any underlying conditions to ensure your safety before pursuing any outdoor adventure.
Health Canada has a quote that rings through “Seven days without exercise make one weak” (physical activity); “Eat well, be active, feel good about yourself” (nutrition, physical activity, positive attitude)” sounds the way to goooo!
Ria Garcia-Frett is a Qualified Exercise Professional and can be reached at 284-441-3688 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If interested in improving your health and body composition, follow her on IG at riakfrett and FB at 180fitnessvi.