The principle behind stretching is that when a muscle is gently stretched, it returns to a more relaxed state. This helps to relieve muscle pain and enable greater range and more efficient movement. For you this means a reduced risk of injury and improvements in your performance.
There are several different types of stretches you can do. In this article we will focus on static stretching. This is stretching a muscle until you feel a gentle tension (not too hard). Holding this stretch for 20-30 sec is best.
When stretching, try to target the main muscle groups used in your exercise. For example, if you're a jogger, stretch your leg muscles – glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves. If you play cricket or netball, add in some upper body stretches as well – lats, traps, pecs and triceps. Speak with your coach or fitness instructor if you're unsure what stretches to do.
Some tips from top athletes & physiotherapists to help your stretching routine include:
1. Warm up: a light jog or warm up is essential to get the most out of a safe stretching session
2. Don't be tempted to rush. Research suggests that you need to hold your stretch for at least 20-30sec
3. Technique matters: get some tips from your coach or fitness instructor if you are holding the correct stretching technique. You will be surprised to learn that you often are stretching the wrong muscles because of poor technique
4. Sports massage makes a difference: remember freedom of motion is what you are after. Stretching done along with regular massage will help your range of movement, help reduce injury and boost your performance.
Enjoy getting fit this summer but remember that adding some stretches will help make it easier.
This reminds me that it is important to look after our bodies which are called the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Corinthians+6:19&version=NIV1984).
There has sometimes been a view that our bodies are earthly and therefore not as important as our spiritual state but this is more of a pagan Greek philosophy. Jesus taught the importance of our bodies and the bodily resurrection supports this. 1 Timothy 4:8-10 also reminds us that while there are some that reject the body it does have some value.
"For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, and especially of those who believe."
The reminder here is that training our bodies helps us NOW. But training spiritually or godliness (i.e. growing in our relationship with Jesus) has both present and eternal benefits. The reason? Because a relationship with Jesus offers peace with God and the salvation to come (i.e. a restored relationship with God). This is worth considering this summer!
Jeremy Dover is a former sports scientist, now pastor and Well-Being Australia volunteer writer.
Jeremy's article archive may be viewed at