Updated: May 28
Are you stretching correctly? Do you know what you should be feeling in your body when stretching? Are you assisting your body to get the most out of stretching?
These are questions that often get forgotten when we get motivated to do a big stretch session, then find ourselves feeling worse the next day!
Stretching seems like a basic skill, doesn’t it? However, if you are uneducated in how to most effectively stretch for your body then you could potentially be doing more harm than good!
If you follow us on social media you will have seen that each Sunday we have been providing our dancers with a #stretchsunday tip to ensure they are improving their stretching during isolation. Below is a summary of the past 5 weeks of tips if you have missed out!
1. B R E A T H I N G
Have you ever caught yourself holding in a breath when you are inching your body further to flexibility? I am ashamed to say that I am definitely one of those culprits!
Did you know that when you hold your breath while stretching you are actually depriving your muscles of oxygenated blood? Your muscles need this oxygenated blood to support your muscles and to stop lactic acid builds up. This can very easily explain why you may feel pain when you stretch, due to the lactic acid build-up!
2. W A R M U P
Did you know that you need to warm up before a big stretch session? (But Lauren...I thought stretching was the warm-up!?)
Warming up before stretching helps to increase flexibility and joint range of motion. It is important to loosen stiff muscles in order to improve your overall stretching performance. You can warm up before stretching by marching on the spot for a few minutes or by walking up and down a flight of stairs a few times.
3. H O L D S T R E T C H
Do you know how long you should be holding your stretches?
A stretch should be held for 10-30 seconds. This allows you to feel the stretch in your muscles but is not long enough to cause any significant pain. If you notice that your muscles are tight, you can hold your stretch for 30-60 seconds and repeat the stretch 2-3 times.
4. D O N’ T B O U N C E
Did you know that you should not bounce when stretching?
Ballistic stretching is the term given when you bounce while stretching. These rapid, uncontrolled, and jerky movements are not recommended, as it can cause muscle soreness and even result in an injury!
Bouncing when stretching damages the soft tissues (ligaments and tendons) around the joints which can develop into tendonitis. Bouncing can also force the muscles to tear and the ligaments to be overstretched which can lead to loose and unstable joints, furthering the risk for injury. Ouch!
5. R E D U C E P A I N
The general rule for stretching is you should feel a GENTLE PULL or mild discomfort, BUT NOT PAIN!
If you feel pain when stretching it is your neurons (nerve cells) sending a signal from your muscles to your central nervous system saying that something is wrong. As a result, your muscles contract, tighten, and resist the stretch. That sudden acute pain you feel is the reaction from your muscles when you have pushed too far. If you feel this sudden pain you should slowly ease off the stretch immediately, to ensure you do not cause any damage to your muscles!
If you have muscle soreness prior to stretching you should not stretch intensely. Intense stretching can further enlarge tiny tears in your muscle fibers cause microtraumas which results in your muscles still feeling sore rather than relaxed.
Other questions to keep in mind to reduce pain when stretching;
• Is my body sore and aching from an intense workout the day before? If so, make sure you do slow, low intensity stretching to reduce the pain.
• Am I feeling any mild pain when holding my stretch? If so, slowly ease off your stretch and hold where it feels comfortable.
We hope you have discovered something new that you can now put into practice next time you stretch!
Here is our DTLS STRETCH CHECKLIST;
✓ Warm-up before stretching
✓ Focus on your breath
✓ Exhale when changing stretch or when increasing the intensity
✓ Hold your stretch for 10-30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times
✓ Slowly ease off the stretch if you feel any pain
✓ Listen to your body
HAPPY STRETCHING EVERYONE 🧘♀️
By Lauren MacKinnon - Founder & Principle of DTLS
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