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Stretching Exercises Keep Your Muscles Healthy

Humans are made up of different types of muscles. The two main groups are phasic and postural. The phasic muscles are made up of fast twitch fibers (type 2), examples are: quadriceps (the muscles in the front of the upper thigh), rectus abdominis (abdominal muscles).

stretching exercises

These muscles are activated in short explosive activities, such as sprinting to the bus, and are prone to getting weak. The postural muscles are made up of slow twitch fibers (type 1), some examples are: gastrocnemius and soleus (muscles in the back of the lower leg) pectoralis major and minor (chest muscles). These muscles are activated in long duration sustained positions and movements, and overtime are prone towards getting tight and restricted.

What Stretching Does

The physiological effect of stretching is that it reduces increased tone of a muscle. The ability to stretch is influenced by: age, gender, body type, temperature, psychological and physical stress, and muscle imbalances.

Stretching after exercise will ensure muscle relaxation, facilitate normal muscle resting length, and improve circulation to structures and removal of unwanted waste products (lactic acid). It is evident that lifestyle will influence the health and function of the musculoskeletal system.

Humans require the activity of specific muscle groups all the time. Many studies indicate that a lot of low back pain cases are due to muscle imbalances. For a well balanced body, it is essential to add stretching as well as exercise to our daily routines.

Stretching Tips

How often you should stretch is not fully understood; however, experts agree that daily stretching is the best, or at least after a warm up before and after a sporting activity. Frequent stretching reduces muscular imbalances sustained by daily activities or exercise.
  • Static, prolonged and sustained stretches are the most effective. Do not bounce as this can cause microtrauma at the musculo-tendinous junction.
  • Connective tissue elongation (plastic deformation) requires low intensity and long duration stretching. Evidence suggests that in order to involve the connective tissue (tendon) and muscle it is essential to hold stretches for at least 15 – 20 seconds.
  • Complete 10 times for each muscle doing both the left and right sides of the body.
You should stretch only when your body is warm, as this facilitates range of motion around a joint structure .Never stretch first thing in the morning. If you exercise in the morning, always do a light warm up (5 – 10 minutes) to facilitate blood circulation before you stretch.

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