What is stretching and what is its use?

ByJoe Louis

Apr 5, 2021
what is stretching and what is its use 609bdc582fbcb

Stretching is the second name for stretching muscles. Recently, there has been a boom in schools of stretching, twine and flexibility. Marathons with rather complex exercises are held on social networks, and in fitness clubs, lessons of this format are becoming more and more popular. Why? People are a little tired of the “iron” sport, or simply realized that without flexibility, you cannot achieve strength. Stretching alone does not burn fat or build muscle, but it is good for both health and athletic performance.

What is stretching?

It can be understood in two ways:

  1. As part of your workout routine, do stretching exercises after strength or cardio. Then each muscle group is stretched for 20-30 seconds, sometimes 2-3 times. Certain groups, such as hamstrings and glutes, may stretch a little longer.
  2. As an independent group class. Options are also possible here. The training can take place both in the key of “stretching to the amplitude that is acceptable for the body and do not force”, and in the format when the instructor stretches the wards, literally helping them to overcome dead spots.

Fitness classes are usually relatively safe. Their goal is simply to relax muscles, increase mobility, elasticity, reduce pain after exercise .

Schools and studios, whose goal is to put the client on a twine, is quite another matter. It uses elements from rhythmic gymnastics and aggressive stretching with ballistic springy movements. Before visiting such establishments, it is worthwhile to soberly assess the state of health, preferably together with a doctor.

Differences between stretching and other types of fitness

Stretching has no purpose to make you slim or remove problem areas. Everything that is written and said on this topic is nothing more than a marketing ploy. Flexibility is a completely different physical quality. She helps people:

  • avoid household injuries during sharp bends, movements on ice or sand;
  • lift large enough weights without injury;
  • move freely in the dance;
  • show acrobatic tricks;
  • doing gymnastics more successfully;
  • maintain a comfortable back and spine position while sitting;
  • to work without pain in the garden, vegetable garden, at home.

But what about the grace of the ballerina and the lean muscles of the dancer? This is achieved by a lot of repetitive and plyometric work on the same muscle group, a high expenditure of calories (more from food) for burning fat, and a fairly rigid diet.

Alvin Cosgrove, author of Women’s Fitness and Health, New Rules for Weight Training for Women, writes that stretching is an important part of physical fitness, but Western girls’ passion for yoga, Pilates and stretching will not lead them to the figures they want to find. One hour of stretching a week is enough if you’re serious about strength, or the standard 10 minutes cool down at the end of a session if you’re just trying to burn some extra calories and get more physically active.

Девушки занимаются стретчингом

Main views

The types of stretching in fitness theory are as follows:

  1. Static – uniform pressure on the lever, that is, an arm or a leg, with a slow and feasible stretch of the muscle. Technically, it is not static, as as the muscle relaxes, the body changes position and the stretch deepens. It’s just a name to contrast with the dynamic subspecies.
  2. Dynamic – performing gymnastic exercises in a gradually deepening amplitude. A classic example is lunges, first with a small amplitude, when the thigh is above parallel with the floor, and then – until the knee touches the supporting leg on the floor.
  3. Ballistic – the same “pushing” the body into the desired position. Hand pressure on the body, legs, swing up and down, springs. Just a year ago, all textbooks for trainers wrote that ballistic stretching was not for health-improving physical education. Now the trend has changed, but the methodological base has not. Instructors still don’t teach this type of stretching.

The benefits of classes

Stretching is a preventative lesson. Exercise helps you avoid household injuries and improve your performance in sports and dancing. They relieve muscle and joint discomfort after sitting in the same position. Another benefit of stretching is to improve posture, to get rid of its disorders for those who have them associated with hypertonicity of certain muscles, such as the trapezium.

Exercise brings back emotional peace, improves psychological state, and helps relieve stress. They improve circulation and help you recover from basic strength training.

Can stretching replace other activities? Not. It only improves flexibility. For the prevention of diseases of the joints and bones, a dosed strength load is needed. It strengthens bone tissue and helps prevent osteoporosis in women.

Stretch won’t do much for the cardiovascular system either. In part, it improves blood circulation and facilitates the work of the heart, but does not affect the health of the myocardium itself.

Basic rules and tips for training at home

Home workouts are very popular. To make them also safe, it is better to go to a few classes at a fitness club or group and learn the exercise technique. Those who work on video can only be advised to review it several times, stop the recording and clarify if something is not yet clear. Stretching for beginners excludes splits and gymnastic elements.

Training should follow the rules:

  1. First, a warm-up that raises body temperature, increases joint mobility and speeds up blood circulation. Steps in place, walking with a high knee lift, bending forward and to the sides, squats, push-ups and crunches on the abs are suitable for warm-ups.
  2. Each muscle is pulled no more than 30-40 seconds per set for beginners. Gradually, you can move on to work according to your well-being, as soon as you are sure that you can control your condition.
  3. When stretching on your own, one should avoid sharp pain, the feeling that something might burst, twisting in the joints.
  4. Normally, there should be a feeling of tension in the muscles, but not severe unbearable pain.
  5. Feelings are individual, but you need to focus on them, and not on the amplitude of movements in the picture or in the video. Human flexibility is an individual indicator, everyone cannot be equally successful in stretching.

Important: Do not exercise directly under an air conditioner, on a slippery rug, or in a room with drafts. This will cause more harm than good.

How often do you stretch? If there is no goal to sit on the splits or stand on the bridge, an hour lesson once a week or even 30 minutes is enough. Ekaterina Firsova shoots video lessons of a shorter duration, Katya Buida – longer, and each student determines the duration for himself.

A good version of the complex for those involved in the house in two parts from Ekaterina:

Clothes and equipment for classes

Train in any comfortable clothing – leggings or leggings, T-shirt or rashguard. Long sleeves are needed for club lessons, supportive fabrics for athletes who may experience severe muscle discomfort during stretching. Stretching at home is more democratic, what to wear – it is up to the practitioner himself, based on convenience.

Twine stretching exercises may require additional:

  1. Small pillows with a slippery surface. They put their knees on them when doing the exercises.
  2. Yoga belts and bricks – help increase range of motion.
  3. Knee pads and gym shoes – useful for training in a gymnastic format.

At home you can practice with or without socks. A yoga mat is required at all times.

Занятие растяжкой в домашних условиях

Approximate training complex

The simplest home stretching complex was developed by exercise therapy instructors:

  1. Neck stretch. Stand with your knees bent slightly and removing the natural arch of your lower back. Stretch the crown of your head up towards the ceiling. Lower your chin to your chest. Stretch your arms down. Feel the stretch of the long muscle along the spine.
  2. Thoracic stretch. From a standing position, step onto your toes and stretch your arms forward, relaxing your back.
  3. Stretching the oblique muscles of the abdomen and latissimus dorsi. Stand steadily, feet slightly wider than shoulders, perform lateral bends, first in a plane parallel to the axis of the spine, lingering for 30 seconds, and then twisting slightly so that your back feels like stretching.
  4. Stretching the hip and rectus extensor muscles. Get into a lunge position and gradually lower yourself down to the available amplitude. The toe of the supporting leg should be at the back, lower to an accessible depth, stretch your hands up and back, stretching the front surface of the body. Change your legs.
  5. Stretching the hamstrings and glute muscles. From the “legs wider than shoulders” position, tilt forward, lower yourself so that your hands touch the floor, and lock the tilt. Try not to hunch your back.
  6. Perform alternate bends to each leg, without twisting the pelvis, to deepen the stretch.
  7. Sit on the floor on your buttocks and bend towards your legs, grabbing your toes with your hands. Legs are apart, but you should not force the position and stretch into a split.
  8. The calf muscles can be stretched by pulling the toes towards you and the heels against the wall from a prone position.
  9. Finish the stretch by stretching your arms up in a prone position.

Stretching and pregnancy

Stretching during pregnancy is allowed and even encouraged. It will improve blood circulation and help relieve some of the pain in the lower back and legs. Normal exercises can be performed with the following exceptions:

  1. During the first trimester, any aggressive stretching that could strain the abdominal muscles is not recommended. We are talking about hanging stretching on a horizontal bar, in inversion boots, as well as with the help of an instructor.
  2. In the second and third – exercises with an emphasis on the abdomen from the supine position are excluded.

Ideally, you need a pregnancy video or a related activity group. Those who have been practicing stretching for a long time can dose the load on their own.

A workout option for pregnant women is presented in the following video:

In case of any atypical sensations, the load should be stopped and a doctor should be consulted . The complex itself can be selected by both an exercise therapy doctor and a fitness specialist for pregnant women.

Иллюстрация простейшего комплекса стретчинга

Stretching efficiency

Stretching is very effective to increase the flexibility, elasticity and mobility of joints. But you shouldn’t even try to use it for purposes that are in no way related to its purpose. Losing weight with stretching, as the only physical activity, will only be successful with a very strict diet.

Joint hypermobility and twine at any cost can cause medical problems. Therefore, if the goal is high, it is worth attending offline classes with an experienced instructor. And workouts for recovery can be arranged for yourself and at home.