Friday, 25 April 2008

To stretch or not to stretch... that is the question!

These days, stretching is not only a controversial issue amongst runners, but other athletes alike. People have different views on whether you should stretch before a workout or after a work out and how long to hold the stretches.

What it comes down to is that regardless of the how, why, when, and for how long, stretching yields great health benefits.

The point of stretching is to lengthen the muscles, and move the joints. There has been several studies done on stretching before a work out, as a common thought is that stretching a cold muscle can cause harm to it, or reduces endurance.

One study shows that runners who stretched before their run slowed their performance as far as strength and power went.

On the other hand, many fitness experts still condone stretching before a work out. A physical therapist interviewed in the study notes that stretching before exercise can minimize injuries, help to regulate imbalances between opposing muscles, helps with shock absorption, and helps runners reserve energy by loosening muscles. Stretching regularly can also dramatically improve flexibility, which is a key element of fitness and gives you a larger range of movement.

Those that are more flexible are much less likely to strain muscles, and therefore get injured much less than those with more restrictive movement.

Along with stretching regularly at the gym, participating in yoga is a great way to reap the physical benefits that stretching has to offer, as well as the psychological ones that the yoga practices gives.

Yoga is said to be one of the best anti aging activities, and can also help to relieve ailments such as asthma, body pains, high blood pressure, and anxiety.

You can also take up practice of stretching out your body throughout the day, as it will release built up toxins and prevent back pains-especially if your job involves sitting throughout most of the day.

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