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Key Points:

1. Regular stretching decreases muscle tension, reduces pain, improves range of motion, relaxes muscles and nerves, and decreases stress.

2. There are two main types of stretches - Dynamic and Static - which have opposite effects on the body. 

3. Dynamic stretching (anything that stretches your muscle while moving) should be done before exercise as it increases blood flow, muscle temperature, and range of motion.

4. Static stretching (holding your muscle in a stretch for a period of time) should be done after exercise as it helps to align muscles and reduce tension.

Stretching (also known as building flexibility and mobility) is an incredibly important element of overall fitness that is often overlooked. Yes, there is an ongoing debate about exactly what kind of stretching is best, but there is no debate about the fact that everyone should do it. Regular stretching decreases muscle tension, reduces pain, and improves range of motion. In an era when activities like sitting decrease our flexibility, stretching matters a lot.

The most important message about stretching is to create a consistent routine. Whether you attend yoga, stretch while hanging out with your kids or stretch before or after a workout, try to aim for 15 minutes or more per day.

But what kind of stretches should you do?

There are two major categories of stretches: static and dynamic. Static is the name for traditional stretches in which you stretch a muscle and hold it for a period of time. Dynamic stretching is the name for any motion that extends your muscles while moving, like swinging your legs or arms, or doing lunges before a workout. Each type of stretching has an opposite effect on the nervous system. 

Before you exercise, dynamic stretching is the preferred approach. Dynamic stretching causes excitatory neuromuscular signals to be sent from your brain to your muscles and increases range of motion, blood flow and muscle temperature, all of which help with exercise.

Static stretching is best done when you are cooling down or when you're just stretching to relax. It helps to align your muscle fibres and reduces tension. So do this type of stretching after exercise, after a shift to relax your muscles and nerves, or to de-stress.

If you are new to static or dynamic stretching, make sure you get some expert advice about how to proceed so that you have good form and understand the basic guidelines. For example, you should never bounce during a static stretch and should hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds. Also, make sure you warm up prior to dynamic stretching. See the cardio warm-up for examples of dynamic stretches you can do before an aerobic workout, and the weights warm-up for examples of exercises and stretches to do before a weights workout. Try this stretching routine for static stretches you should do post-workout or after a flight to recover faster.

Today's POWER-UP: Incorporate stretching into your daily routine

1. Stretching doesn't have to be before and after a workout. Try the cardio warm-up and weights warm-up midday to get your blood flowing or when you arrive at a hotel.

2. Try this stretching routine to calm your body down before you go to sleep.

 

The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation.