If you are the type of person who does physical activities on a regular basis, you know and understand the importance of properly stretching out. Whether you are playing sports, going for a jog, or taking karate lessons, if you don’t warm up and stretch out your muscles, you face a strain, pull, or worse. When you do take the time to stretch out your muscles, your body will feel more flexible, muscle control will improve, and the range of motion will be wider.
At times, some of us stretch without even realizing we are doing so. Like when we yawn, sometimes we lift our arms, stretch our neck, or arch our backs. We also stretch instinctively after a nap or first thing after waking up in the morning. Another example is after sitting in an awkward position or being in a confined space for a given amount of time.
For professional athletes, they focus highly on taking good care of their bodies, and stretching is a basic tenet of their daily routines. Without spending ample time stretching, athletes know that they are more prone to injury. Injured athletes can have big impacts on team play, and can damper their careers if playing a solo sport.
Before stretching, it is important to warm up the muscles you intend on focusing on. If stretching the entire body from neck, to shoulders, to arms, to hips, to legs, it is a good idea to do a light jog, jumping jacks, or jump rope for 5 to 10 minutes. Remember not to push yourself during the warm up phase, wait until after fully stretching, because your muscles are much less contracted and loose at this stage.
There is a right way and a wrong way to stretch out your muscles, if done incorrectly you can do damage to muscles, nerve groups, or even bones and joints. There is often more than one way to stretch a particular muscle and gain multiple benefits, but if damage occurs connecting tendons, muscle fibers, and ligaments can inflame and leave you in quite a bit of pain.
The best advice for novice athletes seeking how to properly stretch out is to visit YouTube and look for videos from yoga and martial arts instructors, professional trainers, or known athletes doing stretching exercises. If you happen to know someone who works out or exercises a lot, you may want to ask for their advice.