Stretching - The Neglected Step Child

Benefits of a regular stretching routine

1.         Enhanced performance and decreased risk of injury

2.         Increased blood supply and nutrients to joint structures

3.         Increased quantity of synovial joint fluid (oil in the crank case)

4.         Increased neuromuscular coordination and reduced muscular tightness

5.         Increased joint mobility

6.         Return of muscle to natural resting state

Exercise routine basics
Frequency:      3 times per week (minimum).  Better done after every workout      

Duration:         10-30 minutes

Intensity:          2 sets of 20 seconds. Hold each stretch, do not bounce, the stretch should be static

Helpful hints in make your program safe and enjoyable:

Stretching should be completed statically.  Static stretching calls for gradually stretching through a muscle’s full range of motion until you feel resistance or mild discomfort.  Hold that position for 20-30 seconds, relax for 5 seconds and repeat the movement 1-2 more times.

The debate as to when to perform a stretching routine is controversial.  It is generally agreed upon that stretching at the end of a exercise session will greatly benefit you.  Stretching before an exercise session though is generally not recommended unless it is preceded by a 5-minute cardiovascular warm-up.  Warming up before stretching increases the blood flow and temperature of the muscles, ligaments and tendons, improving the elasticity and optimal functioning of the muscles and connective tissue.  Stretching when muscles that are cold could lead to a strain or pull. 

A stretching routine should cover all the major muscle groups of the body as well as any specific muscle groups that are being utilized in a sport or activity.  The movement of other areas of the body, other than the muscle group being stretched, should be minimized.  Maintain a regular breathing pattern when stretching.  Stretching will not head off delayed-onset muscle soreness - the kind that generally occurs the day after unaccustomed strenuous exercise.