Importance of Stretching
By: Richard Sirianni
Many forget about the importance of stretching or are too tired or lazy to do it prior to or after their workouts. We allow ourselves to not realize the full potential of stretching. For nothing else, it can improve strength by getting the muscles loosened and an increase in nutrient supply to the stretched area. This allows for quicker healing and greater muscle growth. The faster we deliver nutrients into the torn muscle fibers, the faster they heal and cause less soreness. Moving the lactic acid from our muscles into the bloodstream allows for this (lactic acid) to be excreted from our bodies and water, minerals, nutrients to occupy that space that lactic acid occupied. Thus stimulating more growth in our muscle fibers,
On a functional side, stretching helps prevent injury in sports and out everyday lives. I found this out the hard way. I have been training bodybuilding style for 4 years. I have had low back pains from herniated disc when I was 17. I always chalked all pain in that region to my injury. Recently I have been seeing a long term care chiropractor to help with some pain. Mid September 2010, I had such intense cramping in my lower back, hips, and oblique’s of my right side. The problem was the damage from my injury caused me to compensate my weight to my left side to alleviate my pain. I believed I had slipped a disc with the amount of pain I was in. Come to find out, my psoas muscle (internal obliques) cramped and spasmed, without letting go for 3 days. I began a rigorous stretching regiment and within a week the spasms and cramping had relinquished themselves and my everyday back pain also was gone. I now incorporate stretching into my pre-workout home routine. That way when I get to the gym I’m ready to wage war on my body.
For prevention of injuries we look for two types of stretching, static and dynamic. Static stretching is an older method in which you reach to a point of tension and hold that for a designated count. The more preferred method is dynamic stretching. This involves extending and retracting our stretch with our breath. This allows the body to slowly reach a point further into your stretch, but is not forced by anything more than ourselves. A simple example is the unweighted walking lunge. The walking lunge stretches the hip flexors/extensors, glutes, quads, and hamstrings.
I found out the hard way the importance of stretching, and I write this to inform us all that we need to stretch. It promotes better health, prevents some injury, and can lead to greater muscle growth. Even if you’re not into bodybuilding, it still can help our everyday life with a better posture and in turn can a better life.
“One Dream, One Reality”