Make the most of stretching

  • A little bit everyday is better than a big effort once in a while.
  • It’s easy to overdo it. Make sure you don’t always stretch the same parts of your body.
  • Stick to simple, evidence-based exercises. If you feel pain, discuss it with a doctor.
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Health

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The benefits of starting a stretching routine
  • Stress relief. Our muscles can tighten up in response to physical and emotional stress. Stretching can help relax tight muscles so we feel more relaxed ourselves. 
  • Increased flexibility. Most researchers agree that 10 to 20 seconds of stretching is enough to increase flexibility.
  • Better posture. Stretching can help encourage proper spinal alignment and reduce musculoskeletal pain, which will improve your posture. 
  • Dynamic stretching. Active movements that help your muscles and ligaments stretch by actively tightening your muscles and moving your joints through their full range of motion. 
  • Static stretching. Passive maintenance of a muscle in a position to the end of its range of motion. The position should be maintained without pain for about 30 seconds. 
  • Ballistic stretching. Repeated bounces or pushes of a muscle past its natural range of motion by using force or momentum. 

Aim for 5 to 15 minutes of stretching per day. And if you want to make the most of your stretching routine, it is useful to study the basics.

You're not going to be perfectly flexible after one or two sessions. It takes weeks to months to get flexible, and you’ll have to maintain it.

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RELATED IDEAS

Flexibility Exercises Aren't Enough

Just being flexible isn't providing us with the necessary level of fitness, and the role of stretching exercises prescribed at the gym is now being debated.

Being flexible isn't making us age better, or be injury-free and is not improving our sports performance in any activity which does not require a wide range of motion.

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IDEAS

There are different styles of tai chi, each has a unique set of methods and principles, lineage, and date of origin. Some of these forms of tai chi lean towards health, while others stress competition or self-defense.

  • Chen-style, which started between 1580 and 1660
  • Yang-style, which started between 1799 and 1872
  • Wu- or Wu (Hao)-style, which started between 1812 and 1880
  • Wu-style, which started between 1870 and 1942
  • Sun-style, which started between 1861 and 1932
How we're sitting

The childhood advice of sitting up straight, shoulders back, is incorrect.

Sitting this way takes effort. We end up arching our backs by tensing up our muscles. When we tighten them, we shorten them, and that arches the back, loads the discs in the lower back, and pushes the edges of the vertebrae against each other. Over time, that could alter our anatomy.

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