Basic Stretching Exercises

The combination between daily fatigue and lack of physical activity naturally leads to stiffening the body due to hardening the tendons that connect our bones and muscles and the ligaments that connect our bones together. No matter what our age is, immobilized people usually start feeling some discomfort from limited mobility in their joints and also stiff neck and leg muscles. Flexibility loss may be overcome with some stretching exercises, which improve blood flow of all tissues of the musculoskeletal system. These exercises also supply them with oxygen and enhance the internal metabolic processes.

Everybody who goes to the gym has heard of stretching and know that this type of workout is used for improving the mobility of human body, which is one of the most important components of our sports ability of our body, along with strength, speed, coordination and endurance. It is a myth that stretching exercises are to be blamed for muscle mass loss. On the contrary – stretching exercises have many advantages for people who do them.

What are the main advantages of stretching exercises?

•       They improve the flexibility of our body;

•       They also increase our self-esteem and help u get rid of the tension;

•       Prevent some immobilities that are specific for elderly people;

•       Joints become more mobile, which is a plus when you are an active athlete;

•       The body muscles and connective tissue get more elasticity;

•       They increase the blood flow to our muscles;

•       Stretching exercises after a workout stimulate the regeneration ability of the muscles.

When should we stretching exercises?

Stretching exercises can be performed before and after your usual workout. During stretching after the common mobilization of your joints and cardiovascular system you should also stretch the muscles that will be mainly involved in your training.

After your workout stretching is able to stimulate the overall regeneration of your body. It also normalizes your muscle tone. We also recommend you do some extra back stretching exercises.

What stretching methods should we use?

There are different stretching methods that are built on the basis of different muscle reflex mechanisms. You should choose a stretching method according to your personal body disposition and your training routine.

Passive (static) stretching methods

How is it done? With a slow movement the muscles is brought to its final tension without causing any pain. The essential part is that you should do only a slight stretching, or the so-called “irritation” stretching. Then you should stay in this position for about 15-30 seconds and you will notice a decreasing muscle tension. The whole process is done between two and three times. Do not forget to breathe calmly and evenly.

This method is particularly useful during the last phase of your workout. It will help you relax and normalize your breathing after the other workout exercises.

PNF-method (Proprioceptive Nerve-muscle fasciculation)

This method is a considered as a “warming up” and also a relaxing exercise. It is based on a successive change of contraction, relaxation and stretching. The muscle is retained for about six to ten seconds and is isometrically contracted. After you have terminated the muscle contraction, the muscle immediately falls in a relaxed state, which last about two to four seconds. After that it is being stretched for about fifteen to thirty seconds. This process is repeated between two and three times.

The PNF-method is used in rehabilitation trainings after injuries and trauma, as well as in preventive spine gymnastics.

There are a couple of main principles in stretching

•       Your back should be held in a position that preserves its physiological curves;

•       The head is held the way you hold your back;

•       Joints should not be hyper-extended;

•       You should breathe calmly and steadily;

•       There should not be any pain – just “irritation” stretching.

Connie Jameson is a freelance blogger. She currently works for and is very happy with it because she has enough time for herself.