The key to any fitness program is ample and optimal stretching both prior to and after the exercises. Stretching before exercising warms up your body in the sense that the blood starts regulating more smoothly and you are less prone to accidents and injuries. They increase joint and muscle flexibility allowing an easier and smoother workout routine. Stretches should be held between 15-30 seconds.
Performing stretches after exercises relaxes the muscles and prevents blood clots. It also helps in allowing the body to cool off slowly and the blood to maintain its smooth flow. The body is capable of stretching further after the exercises than it was before due to the rigorous workout it just underwent. Since cooling down is longer than warming up, stretches should be held for 30 seconds to a minute throughout. These extended stretches help flexibility increase the most.
Breathing patterns should neither be synchronized with stretching nor halted. You should breathe normally. Your concentration should be focused on the stretching and breathing, additionally relaxing the rest of your body. Try to feel a mild pulling of muscles but not pain.
If performing standing stretches, grab a steady object to maintain balance and consistency of your stretch. Not holding on to anything can be helpful in improving your balance. Stretching exercises do not have to be confined to the gym or any specific location. They can be done anywhere, anytime, in any environment; while taking a break in the office or in the park in the morning. They should be a part of your daily routines.
Some of the most noted benefits of stretching exercises are that they calm and relax us, provide a peaceful sense and the feeling of well-being, physically lengthen your individual and group muscles, controls susceptibility to accidents and injuries, tissue flexibility and elasticity is increased, better blood flow, higher balance and coordination, improved motion range, smoother circulation, better looking posture, and relief from stress.
Stretching is performed before every sport as well as all exercises. In order to maintain your health it is important to let stretching be a part of your daily life.