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It's all about stretching

 It's all about stretching

Stretching remains a topic at the center of controversy among athletes and athletic trainers who do not generally share the same opinions about the practice. Are stretching exercises necessary? Why are they? Is it beneficial or harmful? When and how does it stretch? What muscles play during stretching? How do you proceed to get positive results?

What is stretching?

Stretching is defined as a group of practices that relax the muscles, tendons and fibrous tissues of the body in a way that prepares them for sports activity and to promote muscle recovery after physical exertion. Therefore, the body can undergo stretching exercises before and after physical exertion for the sole purpose of relaxing the muscles.

Why stretch?

Stretching is a common practice practiced by many athletes, professionals or amateurs, before and after sports. As evidence of this, it is not uncommon to see athletes who, in the middle of the warm-up period, devote a few seconds to light exercises with the aim of stretching the muscles in order to make them competent to perform movements of high amplitude without fear of contraction. Muscle injury or damage.

At the end of the physical effort, stretching exercises are also part of the game. In fact, when muscles are contacted, they contract and make human movement very difficult. Thus, the stretching at the end of physical activity aims to make the muscles more flexible, and relax the skin in order to facilitate human movement. Let's start with a small analysis to determine the advantage of stretching before or after physical exertion.

We all agree that during sports activity, regardless of type, muscles are in great demand. However, in the case of muscle stiffness, it is easier to sustain injury or muscle damage when it is demanded suddenly without any preparation. Stretching before physical exertion relaxes the muscles, allowing the man to move his joints more easily and enjoy their full potential at work.

After physical exertion, the tissues (skin, fascia, tendons, muscles, joint components, etc.) are intensely heated and stiffness occurs that opposes elongation. The pain is caused by shrinking tissues, which prevents a man from performing movements more easily. Therefore, stretching after physical activity is timely, because it improves tissue elasticity through the gradual stretching of the skin, muscles and their components, which promotes rapid recovery and reduces the risk of injury and the duration of aches.

In short, stretching helps to relax the tissues of the human body, facilitates the performance of muscle movements, reduces the risk of injury during play, reduces the duration of muscle pain, and ultimately leads to recovery after physical exertion.

When and how does it stretch?

As mentioned above, stretching can be done before or after exercise. However, views are quite divergent about the ideal moments to practice it. On the one hand, proponents of stretching agree that when exercised while warming up, it will reduce the risk of injury, and make the skin and muscles more flexible and able to move more easily.

On the other hand, opponents argue that while warming up, stretching will reduce muscle tone and can easily leave the door open for injury and muscle damage. One thing is for sure, each side defends an irrefutable part of the truth.

In fact, if the athlete performs the stretching poorly or exerts too much force on the muscles, it is likely that he will suffer pain or injuries that may endanger his physical integrity.

On the other hand, when stretching is performed in very good conditions, without the muscles being overexcited, it is beneficial for the human body, which has good comfort in performing movements and recovers quickly after exercise.Physical exertion.

When do you really need to stretch?

In view of the explanations given below, stretching exercises are already welcome before and after sports, provided that they are performed in the best conditions. However, as a prelude to stretching, it is recommended to warm up your body to prepare it for the different movements.

For information, when muscles and skin are heated to a certain temperature, they are more elastic and do not approach much resistance to extensions. Thus, it is highly recommended to apply what is called "dynamic active" stretching, which allows them to maintain muscle stiffness and stabilize their strength in full activity. Because it is important to know that muscles that are too flexible can negatively affect your performance while playing. An "active dynamic" stretch is a static contraction of a few seconds, followed by a "dynamic" phase that includes exercises such as knee raises, quadriceps or thigh pulls.

After intense physical activity, it is a good idea to stretch to relax the muscles that have been used up. Stretching exercises should be done without too much stress on the muscles, because in the end the result is muscle relaxation, pain relief and not creating others. It is also important to select the stretches according to the sports activity practiced and especially according to the muscles required during the effort.

How do you stretch properly?

Whatever the moment is chosen for the extension, it is necessary to respect certain rules to obtain positive results.

At first glance, structures should be moderately heated before tightening. If you plan to participate in a sports competition in the following hours, you should focus on the so-called "passive" stretching. By passive stretching we mean all physical exercises that allow the muscles to regain flexibility (through long stretches separated by short intervals) and recover quickly after physical exertion (by short stretches interlaced with long intervals).

Next, you should increase the amplitude of each stretch without putting too much pressure on the muscles. Make sure to perform the stretching sessions in a well-ventilated and quiet place while performing the movements as slowly as possible. Avoid stretching in an unbalanced or balanced position.

For example, grab your torso by your arms when you tighten your thighs. This will prevent you from losing balance and contracting the muscles instead of tightening them. Also take 10 seconds of rest after each exercise to relax your extremities without forgetting to moisturize yourself as needed.

Different types of tension

There are many stretching exercises, each adapting to a specific sport and the function of the muscles involved.

chest expansion

The pectoral region consists of three major muscles: the pectoralis major, the pectoralis minor, and the subclavian. When it works well, it shrinks and approximates a nice chest shape. However, it is essential that the chest muscles benefit from flexibility in order to avoid injuries and muscle pain during and after the effort.

To stretch the chest muscles, for example: Hold a bar with your hands so that their width is greater than the length of the shoulders, and your palms are facing the floor (zigzag fist). Pass the tape behind your head, keeping your chest straight. Hold this position for 10 seconds, then let go of a few seconds and resume the exercise.

Find our article on the best chest exercises.

thigh lift

Anatomically, there are two main groups of muscles in the thighs: the anterior muscles (the quadriceps) and the posterior muscles (the hamstrings).

The quadriceps muscles bring the front of the thigh close to the torso. Therefore, it causes hip flexion movement.

To stretch the thighs: Stand, lying on your back or on one side, hold your knee with your hands and try to gently bring it closer to your torso. Or: Lie on your stomach on the floor mat, keeping your torso straight, and resting on your forearms. Lift one leg and bend the knee so that the heel is toward the buttocks. Repeat the same exercise with the other leg.

Find our article on the best thigh exercises.

hamstring stretch

i schio legs allow you to perform the hip extension. These are the muscles that bring the back side of the thigh closer to the back. To stretch the hamstrings: Sit on the floor. Straighten your legs and straighten them. Bend forward to grab your ankles with your hands, then gradually spread your legs apart, keeping them straight.

Calf and back stretch

Calf muscles are the calf muscles that are involved in ankle flexion and extension movements. To extend your calves, lean against a wall, extend one leg slightly back, and then bend your pelvis inward without lifting your heels. After holding the position for 20 to 30 seconds, switch legs, then start the stretching exercise again without forcing the muscles too much at the risk of contracting tears.

It is necessary to maintain the flexibility of the spine composed of muscles such as the latissimus dorsi, lumbar, rhomboid, trapezius ... There is a group of back extension exercises, each of which aims to soften a specific muscle.

To soften the back and back muscles, for example, use a chair. Stand 1 meter from the chair. The legs are slightly apart, leaning towards the table to form a right angle of 90 degrees with it. Then push your buttocks back until you feel your back relaxed. Hold the position for 10 seconds.

Find our article on the best back exercises.

be careful ! The movements should be performed gently and with a difference in amplitude depending on the previous effect.

in summary

If it seems that not everyone agrees on the effectiveness of stretching before physical exertion, it is possible that each side will come to a common agreement on the fact that stretching, when practiced in good conditions in the company of a knowledgeable sports coach, can be beneficial to the human body, as it allows muscles to relax and promotes recovery. after physical exertion.


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