Stretching vital muscle groups before physical activity will help prevent injury and falls, and enable you to perform at your very best. Here's why!
If you’ve taken up the inKin challenge alongside family and friends, then you are probably training hard to be proclaimed the winners. Before heading out into the Great Outdoors or you gym, however, it is vital to leave some time for stretching. Failing to do so can result in weakness, tightness and pain. Muscular strength is also important for stability and stretching vital muscle groups before physical activity will help prevent injury and falls, and enable you to perform at your very best.
The Effect Of Stretching On Muscles
- Stretching helps lengthen the muscles and promotes flexibility, allowing for a good range of motion in our joints. When we rush into exercises without this vital preparative work, our muscles tighten, and pain and limitation of movement can ensue. At the gym, it is frequent to see athletes stretching just the hamstrings, thighs and shoulders, yet there are many muscles we cannot see that play an important role in a plethora of movements.
- The hip flexors, for instance, are a large group of muscles which are necessary to kick, run, and bend our body forward. When these muscles tighten, pain, tightness and/or a pinching sensation can arise in the places we may not imagine, including the neck, back, and buttocks.
Stretching exercises for the hip flexors are highly beneficial and easy. One of the most popular is the ‘seated saddle stretch’, which involves sitting with your legs and around three or four feet apart (and your toes pointing upwards). To perform the stretch, put your hands on the ground or hold your feet and lunge your body forward until you feel a nice ‘burn’. Maintain the stretch for five deep breaths, and repeat!
Hip flexor stretches are great for those with sedentary jobs, since sitting for hours on end will most certainly tighten your hip flexor muscles and cause discomfort.
What Other Muscles Should Be Stretched?
- You don’t have to stretch every muscle you have; just set aside between 10 and 15 minutes to complete your stretching routine. The key areas to work on (in addition to the hip flexors) are the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves.
- Stretching can help you prevent injury, stave off the pain, and perform exercises with a better range of motion. If you have just started stretching before workouts or at the end of a long working day, be patient; it may take weeks or months until you notice an improvement. If tightness persists, see a doctor about additional stretches you can perform, or to discover any other causes of pain. Sometimes, a weak core is to blame for the back pain and other types of ailments so that additional exercises may be recommended.
Ideally, you should combine your hardcore gym routines with yoga to open up your muscles and joints.
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