Stretching is a simple and effective way of enhancing athletic performance, decreasing the likelihood of injury and reduce muscle soreness.
Improved Range of Movement
By positioning parts of the body in certain positions, it is possible to increase muscle length. General muscle tension is reduced and normal range of movement is increased by consequence.
By increasing range of movement the distance limbs can move is increased before damage occurs to the muscles and tendons.
The benefits of an extended range of movement include: greater comfort, increased ability to move freely, reduced susceptibility to muscle and tendon strain injuries.
By increasing muscle length, the distance over which muscles are able to contract is increased. The result is a potential increase in muscle power, athletic ability, muscle control and dynamic balance.
Reduced Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)
DOMS usually accompanies strenuous physical activity. It is the result of micro tears within the muscle fibres, blood pooling and accumulated lactic acid.
Stretching, as part of an effective cool-down, helps to alleviate this soreness by lengthening the individual muscle fibres, increasing blood circulation and removing waste products.
Fatigue results in a decrease in both physical and mental performance. Increased flexibility through stretching can help prevent the effects of fatigue by taking the pressure off working muscles (the agonist).
For every muscle in the body there is an opposing muscle (the antagonist). If the opposing muscles are more flexible, the working muscles do not have to exert as much force against the opposing muscles. Therefore each movement of the working muscles usually takes less effort.
Added Benefits of Stretching
A regular stretching programme will also help to:
- Improve posture
- Develop body awareness
- Improve coordination
- Promote circulation
- Increase energy
- Improve relaxation
- Relieve stress