Stretching before starting any type of physical training is a step that should not be skipped, since it is a way to increase blood flow while taking care of the muscles and ligaments, preparing them for the specific exercise routine scheduled for the day.
Stretching exercises are part of the training routine of athletes or people who want to start a physical activity, be it walking, jogging, yoga, gymnastics, pilates, weights, among others. However, the initial step of full body stretching is often skipped due to lack of documentation on the subject and the need to save time in order to finish the exercise quickly to continue routine activities.
What these people surely do not know is the importance of the stretching routine, to promote the well-being of the muscles and ligaments. Remember that, in the vast majority of cases, people start the exercise routine after a period of inactivity of several hours. This is because they have been sitting at a desk working, in bed resting or simply doing some work or home activity that leads to a low level of body mobility.
In this type of situation, if we start the exercise routine without stretching before, then the muscles will be exposed to injuries, since it is not prepared to assume a greater effort than it had been doing hours before. Likewise, it is suggested to stretch at the end of sports practice, because this is a quick and easy way to provide a feeling of relief and rest to the muscles, tendons and joints.
However, not everything that revolves around muscle stretching is favorable, since there is research that establishes the negative effects of this practice, associated with the deterioration of the muscle fiber and even generating alterations in resistance levels. Of course, everything will depend on the type of stretching to which the individual is subjected, as well as the intensity applied in each of the movements.
Dynamic vs static stretching: Which is the most recommended?
Stretching is a series of gentle movements, which is part of any exercise routine, both at the beginning of said activity and at the end, since it is a way of preparing and relaxing the muscle, respectively.
There are two types of stretching, known as dynamic and static. Each of them incorporates several movements, which must be executed using a specific technique and for a certain period of time, to avoid tiring the muscle or suffering injuries.
Dynamic exercises are a form of active stretching, in which the person performs smooth, short and controlled movements, focused on each muscle group of the body. In this way, it is possible to achieve a gradual and safe elongation of the muscles, without fear of atrophying them, since the force applied in the stretching does not come from any external element. On the contrary, the intensity of the movements is guided by the person and they offer a low caloric expenditure.
With this type of stretching it is not only possible to promote an improvement in muscle oxygenation and prevent some of the main injuries experienced by athletes in the ligaments, but it also increases blood flow, range of motion and, therefore, performance. at a sports level.
For its part, static stretching corresponds to slow movements, but in a state of rest, that is, the athlete will move the muscle to a certain position, which leads to the stretching of the fiber. Afterwards, he will maintain this position for no more than 30 seconds, being necessary to repeat the stretching action at least a couple of times for each movement executed.
Thus, the relaxation of the mass is achieved, which in turn, reduces the pain that generally remains as a consequence of exercise. Also, with static stretching, the muscle activation process is inhibited and both blood flow and flexibility are improved.
If you wish, you can do these upper body stretches and lower body stretches with the help of elastic bands, poles and even balls, which allow the application of an external type of force on the muscle.
Keep in mind that it cannot be said that dynamic stretching is more recommended than static or vice versa, since we would be making a big mistake, because both are necessary during any training. However, each must be applied at a certain time.
In this sense, it is worth noting that dynamic stretching is recommended to prepare the entire body before exercise, since the muscles have previously been at rest. For its part, static stretching helps to relax each muscle group and joints separately, once the training is finished.
Basic movements of dynamic stretching
Once you have defined what dynamic-type stretches are for, the ideal is to learn how to execute them. To do this, you must bear in mind that sudden or bouncing movements are not allowed, as they would cause injuries. On the contrary, the mobility of the body must be smooth and progressive.
Next, we present some dynamic flexibility movements, among which the arm and leg stretches stand out.
You should direct the flexed foot upwards, reaching the height of the navel, but maintaining a horizontal posture. Remember that the movement must be alternated from the right leg to the left.
To continue with the active stretches, you will have to place one foot behind you, while the other is forward. At the same time, raise the arm corresponding to the leg that is positioned behind.
Another dynamic flexibility exercise is aimed at stretching the quadriceps. All you have to do is stretch your arm out straight, just above your head, and simultaneously bend your leg and direct it behind you, while holding the ball of your foot with your remaining hand.
For the abductor stretch, you will have to take a lateral lunge and, from below, rotate your trunk in the direction of the stretched leg. For its part, the elbows should be level with the chest.
These are just three of the many movements that exist to carry out a correct dynamic stretching. The important thing is that the postures do not exceed five seconds in length and that each one is performed alternately.