There are five components of fitness: cardiovascular performance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, body composition, and flexibility. Improving flexibility through stretching is an important preparatory activity that is advocated for improving physical and functional performance. Maintaining good flexibility also aids in the prevention of injuries to the musculoskeletal system.
Several laboratory studies have identified that stretching results in less stiff, more compliant tissue. These changes increase the distance the tissue can stretch, as well as the force required to tear the muscle tendon unit, making injury less likely. Increasing flexibility by stretching causes elongation of the muscle tendon unit to a more physiologically normal range, enhancing optimal function and reducing the risk of musculoskeletal injury.
Stretching enhances the temperature to the muscles, thus increasing metabolic reactions within the muscles, increasing oxygen to the muscles, increasing muscle blood flow, and increasing the speed of nerve impulses. A few minutes of stretching every day at work can help relieve stress, relax tense muscles, reduce risk of injury, and re-energize your day.
Below are some safe stretching tips to remember to incorporate in your stretching routine.
SAFE STRETCHING TIPS:
- Stretch slowly
- Remember to breathe. DO NOT HOLD YOUR BREATH.
- You should feel a gentle stretch in the target muscles; sharp pain is sign of overstretching
- Hold each stretch for at least 20-25 seconds, or until you feel the muscle relax
- Repeat each stretch 2-3 times
- Avoid ballistic (bouncy or jerky) movements during stretching. Allow the muscles to gently lengthen while you hold the stretch.
- Relax your mind/body – enjoy the sensation
- Maintain good posture while stretching