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Importance of stretching before and after a physical activity

classical stretch dvd

Stretching is a special way of slow movement activity, which is used for stretching the muscles. At the same time, it increases joint flexibility and removes muscle and mental pressure.

Why is stretching important

The task of stretching is to optimally stretch and develop joint flexibility without negative side effects, lower the muscle tension after physical activity and keep the joints in elasticity.

Stretching is suitable backache prevention. The stretching methods are used not only in sport but also in curative rehabilitation.

Stretching is also used as prevention to injury – pulling or tearing the muscles, to prevention of some muscle illnesses-tendonitis etc. It also improves the prevention of several joints injuries.

Stretching positions

Vicky Timón – Encyclopedia of Pilates Exercises

Stretching prepares body for physical activity with its effects, for more intensive performance, that’s why it is a necessary part of each sporting activity.

Several specialists suggest stretching before training, but most of the studies recommend heating the muscles and then stretch them.

Stretching and flexibility

stretching exercise before run

Stretching exercises • Photo: rangizzz • www.flickr.com

Shortened muscles have a compensating effect on weakened muscles and that is the main reason of wrong body control. We can influence correct body control with regular stretching exercise and remove the muscle imbalance which is often a reason of many functional disorders and aches.

The flexibility is together with power, speed, endurance and dexterity one of the basic movement abilities. In other words, flexibility is an ability to perform movement in a great joint range.

The meaning of mobility is not only in the range of the movement but also in a prevention of injuries. Sufficient mobility decreases the risk of extending, tearing or even cutting the muscles when there are not coordinated movements.

Mobility is influenced by several factors

Classical stretching

Classical stretch • Photo: Minoru Nitta • www.flickr.com

  • It is an anatomic construction of joints, their shape and type. For example by women, there is greater joint mobility caused by the fact, that joints of women are smaller and enable higher range of movement.
  • Another factor is the power ability of muscles which take part in a given movement. Age, temperature of outer environment, exercising and warming the muscles, tiredness and psychical state of the person are also very important.

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  • Activity of reflex system i.e. stretch reflex. If there is too intensive stretching, especially receptors, so called inside the muscle cause reflex contraction and protect the muscle against forcible unnatural positions.

The development of joint flexibility

Warm up exercises

Warm up exercises • Photo: Agoge Martial Arts & Fitness • www.flickr.com

It is very important to develop joint flexibility from an early childhood. Not only sportsmen often load their body only on one side. Its result is seen on weakening and shortening of certain muscle groups and the condition of the spine.

The joint flexibility reaches its peak at the age from eight to twelve years. If joint flexibility is developed in a wrong way too much before this age, there is a risk of joints and ligaments injury.

The children do not have sufficiently firm ligaments and articular capsules. That is why violent stretching may have serious consequences in adulthood. Excessive joints loosening and pulling the muscles causes hypermobility and luxation of joints.

Stretching and Flexibility Exercises

Importance of stretching before and after a physical activity
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