Stretching relaxes the muscles

Stretching: Stretching properly for better performance

Stretching can improve your performance in training. We'll tell you when is the right time to stretch, how often you should stretch and, most importantly, how.

What is stretching?

The word “stretching” comes from the English “to stretch” and means stretch or stretch. Stretching exercises maintain the flexibility of muscles and joints, which is a prerequisite for a healthy musculoskeletal system. Stretching can also increase training performance, relieve tension and reduce stress.

What happens during stretching?

Every muscle has an insertion and an origin. As soon as you tense the muscle, these ends, also called muscle spindles, come closer together. For example, during the leg curl exercise, your hamstrings are active. If you contract the back of your thigh, the origin below the buttocks approaches the base on the lower leg - you bend your knee.

The opposite happens when stretching: The Muscle spindles of approach and origin move away from each other at mostso that it is used for Extension of the muscle comes. The muscle structure including the Fascia - the connective tissue of the muscles - is stretched for the moment of stretching, moistened and made supple. The muscle can be better supplied with blood and thus be supplied with important nutrients and oxygen. As a result, it regenerates faster and is more efficient.

By the way, frequent stretching does not make the muscle longer, but more flexible in the long term. Similar to the Muscle building training the body adapts to the training stimuli. The fabric is easier to pull apart from time to time and then returns to its original shape.

Why does stretching cause pain?

You are probably familiar with the uncomfortable pulling in your thigh when you go into a deep lunge? This pain is supposed to protect the body from overstretching. Because it can damage your ligaments and joints in the long run. Instead of increasing your strength and flexibility, overstretching makes you unstable and prone to injury.

When the muscles are stretched, receptors on the muscle spindles send signals to the spinal cord. A sharp pain occurs. The longer you stay in this position, the weaker the signals become and the muscle relaxes. Therefore, it is recommended that you hold exercises for at least 45 seconds while stretching.

What are the effects of stretching?

Regular stretching can die in the long run Mobility of the joints improve as well Strengthen tendons and ligaments. Your body learns to use the full range of motion that is available to it.

This is an advantage to take your training to the next level: the smoother and more economical your musculoskeletal system works, the better yours performance. With squats, for example, you can crouch deeper, with jogging you get into a relaxed run faster, with kickboxing you perform more powerful punches and kicks. How strong the positive effects of stretching are on your performance is of course very individual. As long as you don't overstretch, it can't do any harm.

Other benefits of stretching:

  • Compensation of imbalances
  • Release of tension
  • Reducing stress
  • Improving body awareness

It was long believed that stretching was an all-purpose weapon against sore muscles and sports injuries. Meanwhile show Studies the opposite: stretching exercises to prevent injuries have no proven effect. Stretched muscles also do not protect against strains or sore muscles. This is caused by overloading the muscles, which causes fine tears in the muscle fibers. Even stretching cannot prevent this process.

A better means of rapid recovery is a diet high in protein and carbohydrates. A sufficient intake of essential amino acids is crucial for your body. For example, try ours Recovery Aminos after every workout. This will recharge your muscles and you will be fit for the next workout.

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Stretching: timing and frequency

In general, there are two types of stretching: static and dynamic stretching. In the following table, we show which variant makes sense for your sport and at what time:

Static stretchingDynamic stretching
technologyHold the stretching position for at least 30 secondsGentle, springy stretches for 10-15 repetitions
advantagePromotes flexibilityPromotes coordination and blood circulation
disadvantageMakes the muscles more susceptible to injuries, weakens the jumping powerExcessive or uncontrolled execution increases the risk of injury
timeOnly when warmed up, after training or as an isolated training sessionAs part of the warm-up or cool-down
sportRunning, gymnastics, dancing, ballet, martial artsWeight training, ball sports, sprinting, plyometrics

 

In order to benefit from the positive effects, it is advisable to integrate stretching exercises into your training routine at least three times a week - about 10 to 15 minutes per unit.

The most important rules in stretching:

  1. Avoid stretching in the event of acute muscle soreness, injuries or after particularly heavy exertion.
  2. Always stretch on a non-slip surface.
  3. Carry out the movements slowly and in a controlled manner. Glide gently into the positions, never jerkily.
  4. Keep breathing evenly while stretching. As soon as the feeling of tension subsides, stretch a little more intensely.
  5. The stretching pain should be tolerable with normal breathing. As soon as you breathe faster or shallower, take a break and relax the muscles.

6 stretching methods and exercises

There are quite a few stretching methods available. We'll introduce you to the most common types - including sample exercises:

1. Active stretching

With active, static stretching you take a stretching position and hold it for at least 30 seconds (rather longer) on your own.

An example exercise is the lunge: Get into the high push-ups with your hands positioned below your shoulder joints. Place one foot next to your hand and lower your pelvis. Lean slightly forward with your upper body so that you can feel the stretch in your front thigh and hold this static position. You can place your back knee on the floor or you can prop yourself up on the ball of your foot and extend your leg in the air.

2. Passive stretching

Passive stretching is another variation of static stretching. When stretching, however, you do not hold the end position on your own, but are supported. A second person can push you deeper into a position and stabilize you, or you can use aids.

Example exercise: Sit on your mat with your legs as straight as possible and your back straight. Tighten a strap around your toes, hold the ends, and pull them toward you so that you can feel the stretch in the back of your legs. Remain in this position for at least 30 seconds.

The greatest risk with passive stretching is going beyond your natural pain threshold. So be particularly careful here to avoid overstretching.

3. Isometric stretching

In isometric stretching, you take a stretching position and at the end of the range of motion you contract your muscles for about 10 to 15 seconds. Then relax for a few seconds and repeat the stretch.

A popular isometric exercise is chest stretching: You stand upright against a wall in a crotch position and support one hand on it with an extended arm. Rotate your upper body in the opposite direction and lean slightly forward. Depending on the hand position - higher or lower - you stretch different parts of your pectoral muscle.

4. PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation)

PNF is a combination of passive and isometric stretching. The technique was originally developed for the rehabilitation of stroke patients.

You are in a supported, passive stretch position, i. H. you need a resistance or a training partner, and follow the three steps: 1) hold-relax, 2) tense-relax, 3) hold-relax-tense.

The PNF method requires some experience and is therefore particularly suitable for advanced athletes.

5. Ballistic stretching

Ballistic stretching is a dynamic stretching method in which you move explosively instead of gently bouncy. You work energetically and quickly to loosen your muscles and make them more flexible little by little.

Sample exercises are hopping or jumping on the spot, alternating lunges, and arm circles. They are particularly suitable as a warm-up because they get the circulation going at the same time.

6. Holistic stretching

Alternatives to classic stretch exercises are holistic methods such as yoga, fascia training and mobility training that combine static and dynamic elements. With it you challenge and develop your body from head to toe - a useful addition to other sports.

A popular mobility exercise is the Worlds Greatest Stretch: Take a deep lunge and support yourself on the floor with the opposite hand. The back leg remains elongated. Push your hips forward, keeping your pelvis straight. Rotate your torso to the open side, stretch your arm towards the ceiling and look after your hand. Repeat the movement ten times on each side.

Conclusion

  • Stretching can improve flexibility and improve exercise performance.
  • Regular stretching strengthens the ligaments and joints, balances out imbalances and relieves tension.
  • In the case of acute muscle soreness or injuries, intensive stretching should be avoided.
  • A distinction is made between static and dynamic stretching: dynamic stretching before exercise, static stretching after training or after a warm-up.
  • Static stretching is ideal for dancers and martial artists, as a supplement to weight training or ball sports, dynamic stretching.
  • We recommend 10 to 15 minutes of stretching three days a week.
  • Yoga, fascia training and mobility training are suitable alternatives to conventional stretching programs.
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