Stretching has long been believed by the Chinese to encourage the free
flow of blood and chi (qi, or life force) in our bodies.
Fitness gurus are aware of the fact that stretching
fortifies the ligaments and the tendons and can
strengthen the bones indirectly. In addition, stretching keeps the
It has also been practiced for years because it was believed to
minimizes exercise-related injury, although the veracity of this latter
benefit has been disproved by a few scientific studies.
In the JOPERD article (The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation
& Dance), “Stretching During Warm-Up: Do We Have Enough
Evidence?” the researchers concluded that there was no guarantee
that stretching prevents injury during exercise.
However, the authors acknowledged the fact that
stretching does have a
long-term benefit of decreasing muscle stiffness, resulting in
greater dynamic flexibility.
The two short-term effects of stretching reported in the study were
a possible decrease in strength before the “supercompensation” or
“recovery” training phase (occurs after the body has undergone adequate
recovery; during this phase, the individual’s performance level exceeds
his performance level during prior to the training), and a temporary improvement
in motion range.
In the past, fitness enthusiasts were taught to stretch first before
Today, we are advised to first do the warm-ups before
The reason? Judith Hanna, a senior researcher at the College Park’s
University of Maryland, says we need to warm up so we don’t pull
Safe as stretching may look, there are useful tips we could follow
once we decide to incorporate stretching into our daily routine.
Tips for safe and
- Although a stretching routine is easiest when
done in the late
afternoon or early evening, they significantly help the chi and blood
(which has become sluggish during the night) to flow freely when done
in the morning.
- Never bounce into a stretch.
For instance, when
you’re standing and reaching for your toes, let your arms hang instead
of bouncing for your tips to reach your toes.
- Never stretch too far too fast.
Your muscles need to become flexible little by little.
- Work with your breath and relax further
with every exhalation.
- Perform your stretching routine daily to keep
your body flexible and supple.
- Vary your stretching routine
regularly. This not only prevents being “burned out” or
what they call “bored out,” but also touches on different muscle groups
- Match your stretches with the
activity you are about to undertake. Stretching must be
geared towards preparing the parts of your body which will be most used
during the activity.
finally, avoid stretching if you are not feeling well; have
experienced any recent joint or muscle damage; have a major physical
problem of any kind; and have had a recent surgery, injury, or accident.