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Stretching Can Help Avoid Injury

Have you ever gotten up after sitting in a movie theater for a couple of hours and felt really stiff?  Whenever you are stuck in the same position for a long period of time it is pretty common for the muscles around your joints to get tight and stiff.  If it goes away relatively quickly, then no harm done, however if it’s something that takes longer than usual, you may want to look into a good stretching program.  

There are two types of stretches; static and dynamic.  Static stretching involves holding a stretch for a prolonged period of time and only doing a few repetitions.  A dynamic stretch involves movement without a hold.  

When do you do static versus dynamic stretching and how is it helpful??  Before doing an activity or playing a sport, dynamic stretching should be performed.  Dynamic stretching works to prepare the body for activity and prevents injury. The joints and muscles move through a full range of motion and provide a great warm-up before an activity.  Static stretching is performed after the activity is finished. Static stretching will improve your flexibility and allow your joints to move more freely as well as move more efficiently.  Another important benefit of stretching is improved posture as well as improving muscle imbalances. The thing you want to think about is that stretching should be done within pain-free ranges and not forced.

There are lots of questions about how long you should hold a static stretch.  If you are holding a stretch less than twenty seconds, you are not receiving any benefit to performing that stretch.  The purpose of a static stretch is to elongate the muscle fibers.  The more muscle fibers stretched, the longer the fibers become.  It is recommended that you hold a stretch for twenty to thirty seconds and perform three repetitions of each.  You want to make sure you hit the major muscle groups. This should take about 10 minutes post exercise. A lot of people bypass this after exercise, and as a result are more prone to injury.  The joints of our body are put under a lot of stress with exercise, so take that extra ten minutes to take care of those joints so you can continue to do what you love without pain or injury.

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