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Active Stretching: What It Is and How To Do It

Stretching appears straightforward sufficient — for instance, bending over and touching your toes. And you’ve in all probability completed a stretch or two earlier than or after a exercise.

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But do you know that there are lots of types of stretching? And you can reap advantages like bettering your flexibility and growing your vary of movement by stretching a couple of occasions every week?

While many people in all probability aren’t working stretching into our each day to-do lists, one type of stretching referred to as lively stretching is a simple technique to get began, because it simply requires utilizing your physique.

Exercise specialist Ben Kuharik explains lively stretching, its advantages and the best way to do it.

What is lively stretching?

Active stretching, also called static lively stretching, makes use of your individual muscle tissues to offer resistance. With an lively stretch, you’re transferring or contracting one muscle to stretch one other. And as you’re utilizing your individual muscle tissues, there’s no exterior drive like tools or different individuals required.

So, what’s the distinction between lively stretching and different types of stretching? The key to lively stretching is holding every pose for about 15 seconds as an alternative of going by means of a variety of movement like shoulder circles, which is taken into account a dynamic stretch.

Passive stretching is much like lively stretching, however with these strikes, you have a tendency to make use of an exterior drive like an individual or a prop like a towel to help in your stretch.

“Active stretching involves reciprocal inhibition,” explains Kuharik. “That’s when one muscle called the agonist, is used to stretch the opposing muscle, which is known as the antagonist.”

And the probability of an harm whereas lively stretching is low. Your physique gained’t permit or drive you to transcend some extent you can’t deal with.

Benefits of lively stretching

Stretching may be good for numerous causes. Here are some lively stretching advantages:

Improves flexibility

We’re not saying you want to have the ability to do the splits, however staying versatile may also help your total well being as you age.

Research reveals that having a stretching routine will make it easier to transfer round extra comfortably (assume going up and down stairs) and might preserve your muscle tissues and joints robust and wholesome in the long term.  

Improves stability

And as we age, the danger of falling will increase. But research reveals that lively stretching could also be an efficient means for older adults to enhance their total stability.

“When you’re walking, you don’t want your feet close together — you want a wide base of support,” says Kuharik. “But over time people tend to develop a narrower walking stance, which can lead to falls. Your muscles become chronically tight and you just don’t even realize it.”

By incorporating lively stretching into your each day routine, you’re maintaining your muscle tissues robust and versatile — and sustaining a wider strolling stance, which helps with fall prevention.  

Increases blood stream

Feeling sore after a strenuous exercise? Stretching could assist enhance circulation, which will increase blood stream in your muscle tissues. That all provides as much as a technique to cut back muscle soreness and assist recuperate extra rapidly post-workout.

“If you stretch the areas you’ve just worked out, your blood flows more freely and boosts the amount of oxygen and nutrients that reach your muscles,” explains Kuharik. “Stretching helps flush out the toxins in your muscles. If you spend just a few minutes stretching, it helps remove any lactic acid build-up, which can cause delayed onset muscle soreness.”

Improves posture

According to studies, sticking to a stretching routine may assist along with your posture by strengthening your muscle tissues and selling correct alignment.

“We’re sitting all day — especially in this day and age — on our computers, on our phones,” notes Kuharik. “When you sit for chronic periods of time, your body wants to adapt to that position and thinks it’s the new norm. Then, you stand up and you’re essentially stretching all those muscles out and your body doesn’t like it. It wants to conform back to the seated position.”

So, what can we do?

“You need to take a little bit of extra time and just stretch out all those muscles,” says Kuharik. “By constantly flexing and stretching those muscles, they learn to go back to their natural position.”

How to do lively stretching

As lively stretching doesn’t require a companion or any tools, it’s straightforward to do. And whereas lively stretching is usually used after a exercise, it doesn’t have to occur along with train. You can do it anytime, wherever.

“You don’t need to spend a lot of time doing active stretching,” says Kuharik. “For example, I spend maybe two to five minutes after every workout. I just spend a few minutes on the targeted area and that does the job.”

Another plus? You don’t have to heat up earlier than participating in an lively stretch. “It can fit into your lifestyle,” he provides. “You could stretch sitting at your desk.”

And in the event you’re a fan of yoga? You’re already participating in lively stretching by holding sure poses for a couple of seconds at a time.

Active stretching examples

Here are a couple of lively stretches you’ll be able to strive:

Hamstrings (higher leg muscle tissues)

  1. Lie on the ground and lift your left leg up till you’ll be able to really feel a stretch.
  2. Contract your quadriceps (thigh muscle tissues) and maintain for 10 to fifteen seconds.
  3. Relax contraction and decrease your leg.
  4. Repeat with proper leg.

Triceps (again of your higher arm muscle tissues)

  1. Raise your left arm above your head. Bend your left arm so it touches the again of your neck.
  2. Contract your biceps (higher arm muscle tissues) till you’re feeling a stretch in your triceps and maintain for 10 to fifteen seconds.
  3. Relax contraction and decrease your arm.
  4. Repeat with proper arm.

Calf (decrease leg)

  1. While standing, shift your physique weight to your left leg.
  2. Lift your toes up in your proper foot.
  3. Contract your proper shin (knee) muscle till you’re feeling a stretch in your calf. Hold for 10 to fifteen seconds.
  4. Relax contraction and decrease your toes.
  5. Repeat with left foot.

Overall, lively stretching may be an effective way to work in your flexibility, vary of movement and stability. And by utilizing your individual muscle tissues to stretch different muscle tissues, it may be straightforward to do wherever and anytime.

“Remember, you don’t want to push your body past its natural range of motion,” cautions Kuharik. “You want to have a controlled motion and feel a good stretch that you can hold comfortably for a few seconds at a time.”

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