It is impossible to imagine a full workout without stretching . Stretching is necessary for muscles after strength loads, with a permanent sedentary lifestyle. It makes muscle fibers elastic and flexible, and reduces the risk of injury and damage.
In fitness, stretching refers to a separate area – stretching . Such training is possible both with a trainer and at home. Stretching is useful for the elderly, athletes, people without training, and even pregnant women. Consider the benefits of stretching for the body, and how to start such workouts at home.
What is stretching and why do athletes need it?
A complete workout should consist of strength training , cardio training, and stretching. The former are necessary to increase strength, the latter – train the cardiovascular system and endurance. Why stretch? It helps to restore muscles after serious strength and cardio loads , relaxes the body and reduces the risk of injury.
As a rule, various stretches and breaks of muscle fibers occur precisely with unheated and insufficiently stretched muscles.
Stretching workouts involve a low efficiency load aimed at stretching joints and muscles, increasing their flexibility and endurance. The main task of stretching is to accelerate fat burning processes, restore the body after training and prevent herbs. The advantage of such a training system is that beginners can practice stretching even without specialized equipment and the accompaniment of a trainer.
Additional benefits of stretching are as follows:
- Strengthening of ligaments, connective tissue (tendons) and joints is observed.
- Relief from muscle spasms.
- Improving blood circulation in muscles – helps with injuries, sometimes stretching helps to get rid of pain in the lower back and joints.
- Stretching relaxes and soothes, with regular training, the sleep regimen is improved, negative emotions go away.
Stretching classes are suitable for both experienced athletes and beginners. People without prior training should exercise at low intensity and avoid noticeable muscle pain. An alternative is a course of classes with a trainer, who will pick up the load individually, gradually increasing it according to the characteristics of the organism.
Important! If you have not previously played sports or have not devoted time to physical activity for a long time, see your doctor for a consultation. Perhaps some chronic diseases (especially – injuries of the spine and hip joint) make it almost impossible to play sports without a specialist’s assistance.
Types of stretching
But if there are no contraindications to stretching , you will notice the effect after several weeks of regular exercise. Below we will look at a couple of exercises that can form the basis of your complex, but for now we will deal with the main varieties of this area of fitness.
This is a type of stretching with a partner. The peculiarity of such workouts is as follows: you take the position necessary for the exercise, the partner makes efforts and stretches you. That is, only passive participation is required of you, there is an effect on the muscles locally, and such an activity can hardly be called a full load.
Example: You sit on the floor, straighten your legs in front of you and try to rest your head on your knees. The partner presses on the back, trying to stretch the muscles in the back of the thigh.
A popular form of stretching among professional athletes, it is especially effective before competition and peak seasons. Static stretching is done at the end of a workout and reduces the risk of pinching the muscles by making the fibers much more elastic. This prevents injury and damage. The principle of such stretching is simple: take the required position, trying to stretch the muscles to peak values and freeze in this position for a few seconds (about 10), then smoothly return to the starting position.
Example: Stretching the back of your thigh, you try to reach the floor with your hands without bending your legs. Freeze for 10 seconds in the lowest position, and then gradually rise upward.
This stretch is the opposite of the previous one. All exercises are performed at an intense striking pace. Each new movement (jerk) should be deeper than the previous one, the amplitude gradually increases. This training format is not suitable for beginners and is aimed, first of all, at waking up already trained muscles. Jerk loads are contraindicated without a warm-up, since they are traumatic relative to the rest of the stretching .
Similar to static, only used to stretch one specific muscle group. During the exercise, you should freeze in a peak position for you. In this case, the pose is kept static due to one or two muscle groups. That is, the rest of the body is not involved in such exercises.
Example: Raising one leg to peak height and holding a few seconds.
Used as a warm-up before strength or cardio workouts . Exercises are performed at an active pace, and the program consists of complex loads that involve large muscle groups or the entire body. During dynamic stretching , the processes of fat burning , metabolism and blood circulation are activated .
Example: Bends of the body, intense swinging legs, lifts on toes, running with high knees, etc. You did almost all of these exercises in physical education lessons at school.
Stretching with resistance
An elastic band or a partner acts as a resistance. The scheme of action is similar to a passive stretch, but in this case the resistance should prevent you from taking the necessary posture at the peak. Thus, muscles work not only for stretching, but also for resistance. This increases the tension in the muscles, forcing them to contract at times harder.
One of the main rules of good stretching is proper breathing. It doesn’t matter what kind of stretching you choose, be sure to monitor your breathing rate, do not inhale through your mouth, keep a measured pace.
Is stretching possible at home
Stretching is good for getting started in fitness. That is why such a complex of training is chosen by mothers on maternity leave, elderly people (who find it difficult to observe the intensity of group activities in the gym), beginners without physical training. At home, it is sometimes more comfortable to get ready and tune in to a workout than in an aerobic class.
Consider a few basic rules for stretching at home:
- Choose the right training intensity. Read on the Internet for information about basic training complexes, watch a video with the correct exercise technique. The first lesson should be a test one – on it you will determine your real level of training. If it’s too easy for you, increase the load, and vice versa, knock it down if you feel severe pain or shortness of breath. The optimal intensity is when you find it very hard in the last seconds of the exercise and moderately hard at the beginning.
- Study the contraindications. Pregnant women should be careful with stretching , there are certain restrictions for people who have suffered injuries of the musculoskeletal system (fractures, dislocations, displacements, etc. ). If you still have doubts, it is better to visit a doctor to get rid of them.
- Don’t forget about regularity. If you are exercising at home, it is often difficult to maintain a stable training schedule. One lesson a week is unlikely to bring the desired result. For beginners, the optimal frequency of stretching workouts is 2-3 times a week. Sometimes the number of classes is increased to four and alternated with other types of load.
- Choose the right clothes. Since you will be stretching, the clothing should be athletic and should not hinder movement. All sports leggings or pants have special seams that won’t dig into the skin or interfere with any stretching exercises. Be sure to choose either natural fabric or material that has been designed for sports. There is a risk of skin irritation in synthetic clothing. The composition should be spandex , nylon, etc.
- Make progress. Explore additional materials on stretching , change the intensity of your workouts, their frequency or load. Over time, it is better to visit a trainer (at least several times) to gain new knowledge and make sure that you are doing all the exercises from your complex correctly.
Why is it useful to do stretching at home:
- Muscles become toned, the body becomes more elastic and visually attractive.
- The joints and tendons are strengthened, the risk of diseases such as osteoporosis and the risk of fractures are reduced.
- The walls of blood vessels are strengthened, blood circulation is normalized. Sometimes girls even notice a decrease in the amount of cellulite (lymphatic metabolism in problem areas is stabilized).
- Muscle spasms go away, muscles relax, recover faster and become elastic.
- The posture becomes level and the back is strong.
- Weight decreases gradually and without stress, as metabolic processes in the body are normalized.
- The body becomes flexible.
- The nervous system relaxes, stress resistance increases.
Possible contraindications for homework include various fractures (recent), displacement and dislocation of bones, already developed arthrosis and osteoporosis, various exacerbations of cardiovascular diseases. In any case, if you have any chronic disease, it is better to consult a specialist.
Can Stretching During Pregnancy?
During pregnancy, many types of physical activity are prohibited. Stretching can be done before childbirth, but only if you have a competent approach to building workouts. Stretching is believed to have a beneficial effect on the process of childbirth and childbirth.
Make sure that you and your baby are okay initially. Check with your healthcare professional to ensure that the fetus is in the correct position and that stretching will not harm your baby.
It is not recommended to do stretching for girls whose pregnancy is taking place with various complications, there is a possibility of premature birth or the threat of miscarriage. Also, stretching is contraindicated in low placentation and in the presence of a number of gynecological diseases. After consulting your doctor, you will determine the optimal physical activity for yourself during pregnancy.
How can pregnant women stretch ? Trainings are mainly carried out in a sitting and lying position (on the back). Often experts recommend adding fitball to training during pregnancy – a special inflatable soft ball for fitness. The set of exercises for pregnant women is much easier than for beginner athletes. It is important to limit excessive stress on the lower back and abs.
If the set of exercises is selected correctly, then the expectant mother will not only improve her physical health, but also relax and be able to better prepare for childbirth. Even a low intensity of stretching improves blood circulation, helps to get rid of edema, which many women suffer from during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, you can take a training complex for novice athletes, but reduce the intensity (number of approaches, repetitions). You should also avoid abdominal exercises and those that involve a prone position on your stomach. See how you feel – if any discomfort or discomfort is felt, you should stop exercising.
Basic program for beginners
To better understand how the average stretching workout takes place , here’s an example of a basic set of exercises that all fitness fans without stretching experience should start with. The main task of the main set of exercises is to stretch the muscles, make them more flexible. In each exercise, you need to achieve a feeling of mild pain without discomfort and remain in this position for up to thirty seconds. It is recommended to repeat each exercise (for any muscle group) at least 5 times, and the workouts themselves – up to three times a week.
Stage one – warm-up
In any fitness workout, pre-warming up your muscles is very important. So you reduce the risk of injury, the muscle fibers themselves become elastic and pliable. Training will be many times more effective. The warm-up time should not be less than 10-15 minutes. It is better to run a little on the track (or on the spot), jump rope (if there are no problems with joints).
Stage two – legs
There are several basic exercises for stretching the legs, the features and techniques of which we will consider below:
- Mach (glutes, thigh muscles, and knee tendons are involved). The technique is as follows – stand up straight, feet should be shoulder-width apart. Start with your right leg – in a level position, just take it forward a little and make springy oscillations to the left and right with a small starting amplitude. Increase the swing amplitude with each set. Make sure that your back always remains straight during the exercise. On each leg, allocate up to a minute of such swings.
- Lateral lunges (train the inner thigh and buttocks). Starting position – standing with feet shoulder-width apart, hands on the belt. Take a side step to the right, squat down as deep as possible. The right leg is bent at the knee, as in a squat, and the left leg remains straight, touching the floor with only the foot. Body weight is transferred completely to the bent leg. When you sit as deep as possible, hold this position for up to one minute.
- Cross swings (involving the back muscles, calves, hamstrings). Stand straight (feet shoulder-width apart), stretch your arms straight at the elbows in front of you at shoulder level. Lift each leg in turn so that the toe tends to touch the palm of the opposite hand. At the same time, the leg at the knee should remain straight.
- Lunges with high knees (glutes, calves, thighs, and knee tendons). Put your hands behind the back of your head, step forward with maximum amplitude with your left leg. Returning to the starting position, lift the left knee as high as possible, leaving the right leg slightly bent at the knee.
Stage three – back
For the back in stretching, inclinations are considered effective. Only three of their types are considered basic:
- Forward. While standing, bend forward with an even posture, placing one leg slightly in front. Try to touch your feet with your palms without bending your knees. You can also lean forward with your hands locked behind your knees. Try to touch your knees with your head and get down as low as possible.
- Sitting. Spread your legs wide and bend your knees. Slowly as you exhale, bend forward and stretch your arms forward and try to touch the floor with your body. Exercise smoothly and without sudden jerks.
Stage four – hands
The first exercise is very simple, it helps to stretch the entire shoulder girdle. In a standing upright position, spread your straight arms to the side at shoulder level. Rotate in a circle with straight arms, trying to increase the amplitude and frequency of rotation. Change the direction of rotation and repeat the exercise.
The scissors exercise lengthens the flexor muscles of the elbow. Raise your straight arms straight to shoulder level. At the same time, cross your arms (the amplitude is similar to the work of scissors). First, one hand is above the other, then vice versa. The duration of the exercise is about a minute.
Abduction of hands behind the back. Exercise strengthens the extensors. First, raise your left arm bent at the elbow, your palm should be behind your head. With your right hand, grasp the palm with your left behind your back. Pull your left arm down until you feel muscle tension. In this position, you need to stay for thirty seconds and change hands.
Stage five – press
Lie on your stomach, lift your legs bent at the knees above the lower back. Try to bend in your back, grabbing your ankles with your hands. The purpose of the exercise is to create the maximum deflection in the lower back and touch the floor with only a small part of the abdomen.
Standing in an even position, raise your straight arms in the lock and try to stretch them as high as possible. While doing the exercise, tense the muscles of the buttocks, lower back and abs. Lean gently to the right and left, keeping your back and arms straight. Linger in the bend for thirty seconds.
Seated turns. Sit on the floor, support yourself with the back of a chair. Pressing your feet to the floor, turn your body to the left and right (leaning on the chair will help you not to change the position of your legs). Stay in peak amplitude for 30 seconds, try to increase the swing amplitude after each movement.
Stage six – stretching the chest muscles
You need to lie on the floor with your back. The knees are bent at a 90-degree angle, the heels as close to the buttocks as possible. It is necessary to raise the hips with maximum amplitude until the muscles burn pleasantly. The shoulders remain on the floor. Hold the bridge up for 5-10 seconds. Get on your knees straight, tighten your thigh muscles and abs. Place your hands on your lower back and try to slowly bend your lower back, tipping your head back. Strive to bring your shoulder blades together and arch your lower back. Hold in the peak position for you for thirty seconds.
If you find it difficult
What to do if stretching at home seems too difficult or incomprehensible, it is better to do it with a trainer. A professional will select an individual load just for you, monitor the technique and will not allow you to give your all during the lessons not 100%.
Sometimes there are group stretching classes , some even outdoors. As a rule, training in a group or under the supervision of a trainer gives good results, since beginners do not want to lag behind the group, and the trainer monitors the quality of the exercises.
Instead of a conclusion
So what stretching will do you , and why such workouts cannot be ignored by fitness fans:
- Your joints and tendons will be much more elastic. You will get rid of pain in the weather, overwork and quick fatigue of the joints.
- Strength training results will improve. Muscle grows much more efficiently when a sufficient amount of blood enters the fibers. Stretching improves blood circulation in training areas by stimulating muscle development.
- Fast recovery and muscle regeneration. If you’ve recently been injured in training, stretching is a natural way to stimulate blood flow and repair muscle fibers.
- Weight loss and normalization of metabolic processes. If you want to lose extra pounds, get rid of cellulite – stretching will complement your workouts and improve the result.
Engage in stretching is important and necessary! Watch some instructional videos below and get inspired by the right exercise technique.