Most people who do some kind of exercise or enjoy sports are aware of stretching and warming up. These are light exercises which prepare our body for more intensive exercising or sports activity by increasing our flexibility.
Stretching Increases Flexibility
Stretching is an activity which we carry out to allow our muscles to reach their full length. Stretching is actually an instinctive action in animals and human beings. When we wake up from our sleep or stand up after sitting for a long while at a college lecture, we instinctively stretch our muscles and sometimes even yawn while doing so. In common words, stretching helps to loosen the inactive muscles and has a relaxing effect on them. For instance, after sitting in front of the computer continuously you will tend to stretch the shoulder and neck muscles.
However, one precaution that you should always follow while stretching is that it should not be done suddenly after a long period of inactivity. This can strain or tear the muscles which you are trying to stretch. Also, one must remember never to overdo stretching of a particular muscle. This means that you must stretch a muscle only till the limit your body allows you.
As an exercise, stretching keeps our muscles in good condition and prevents muscle and joint pain. However, to get the maximum benefits of stretching, it has to be done the right way. First of all you must never stretch cold or inactive muscles suddenly. Instead the muscles have to be gradually stretched to the maximum ability without being strained in any way. This means that you must not over stretch at all as this can cause damage to your muscle tissues.
If you use stretching to increase your body’s flexibility you must gradually increase the level to which you can stretch. For instance, if you are trying to touch your toes with your fingers without bending your knees, don’t try to achieve this in one day. Instead do it comfortably over a few days. In this way your body’s flexibility will be achieved without any damage or pain and you will also enjoy the exercise.
Warming Up Increases The Heart Beat Gradually
Warming up is also a light exercise which people use to prepare their body before some heavier exercise or activity. As the name suggests warming up means raising the body’s temperature by 1 or 2 degrees so that it can comfortably undergo the increased activity. As we know any heavy activity causes our heart to beat faster and raises our body temperature considerably. Rather than suddenly causing the body temperature to rise, if you gradually prepare your muscles by lightly activating them before the activity, not only is it good for the heart and muscles but it also improves one’s performance.
For instance, if you want to go for long run, you should first jog for a while and then start running. Also for games or sports like football which require a lot of physical activity, ideally the players should warm up their muscles with some light spot jogging or skipping before starting the sport.
Warming up is an essential part of all sports and exercises. Whether you enjoy body building, weight lifting, sprinting, swimming or any sport like badminton, tennis or football, you must first warm up your body both for your body’s wellbeing and also for good performance. This prepares the body to undertake the intense physical activity and not subject it to it suddenly. Warming up also helps to increase the heart beat gradually to accommodate the heavier activity which is to follow.
Warm Up Before Stretching
As a rule, warming up is a must before carrying out all kinds of exercises including stretching. If you use stretching to increase your flexibility, you should never stretch cold or inactive muscles as that way you can cause them to tear. Instead do some light warming up exercises like moving your shoulders, wrists, ankles and other joints, and perform some light hand and leg movements before starting your stretching exercises.
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