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Stretching Techniques Explained: Why It's an Important Practice before Working Out

Stretching techniques come in handy before you begin your workout. Sometimes taken for granted or dismissed as an activity that is non-essential, stretching is in fact a practice that is beneficial for you before a workout. Stretching can be thought of as a physical exercise in and of itself, one where you elongate a certain group of muscles specifically to improve their elasticity and their muscle tone. As a result of stretching before working out, you can often feel a sensation of increased muscle control, range of motion and flexibility. In a pure therapeutic sense, stretching techniques can also be used to get rid of cramps.

Reduce Injury and Improve Performance

Athletes in particular stretch before a workout or even before their specific game occurs, because they know that effective stretching techniques contribute to a lower chance that they will injure themselves, as well as lead to improved performance. One of the most fundamental properties of basic fitness is increasing your flexibility, and this is in part what helps athletes avoid injury before they engage in exercise or sport. This rule applies to you, too, even if you're not a high-performance athlete. Stretching techniques also target the muscles, making them stronger, which only helps for improved performance. In a sort of reciprocating effect, stronger muscles have a positive effect on your stretching, as they help to ensure that you stretch both safely and effectively.

Different Types of Stretching Techniques

Sometimes you need to try a few different stretching techniques in order to get the full range of benefits. This is because one type of stretching is not always enough to either prevent injury or to provide you with the full benefits of stretching. For instance, if your aim is to improve your range of motion before a workout, you ought to rely on the proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching technique (PNF), because it provides for great benefits, especially short-term. Another method of stretching is resistance stretching, where the basic goal is to simultaneously elongate and then contract muscles. This form of stretching is particularly useful if you are going to be pursuing strength training exercises immediately after. Resistance stretching is unique in that it may take more than one person to do; the role of the second person is to provide the movement that the stretcher is to resist.

Abuse of Stretching

As with all things, overdoing something or abusing it can lead to undesirable consequences, and this applies to stretching. If you stretch excessively to where you actively feel pain, you may be setting yourself up for a predisposition to both nerve damage and injury. Likewise, excessive stretching may actually cause a condition called ischemia in your muscles, which is defined as a limitation in blood supply. Consequences of ischemia on your muscles include the lessening of oxygen levels along with an impediment to removing metabolic waste.

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