Most people are unaware of how important stretching is to maintaining basic body function.
Stretching is the key to maintaining balance, flexibility, muscle control and even strength. It can also be an effective method of fighting the effects of aging, and aid in recovering from or preventing injury.
Body parts are not created equal. Each muscle is designed for specific tasks. This means there are different ways to stretch each muscle.
Stretching provides different benefits depending on which part of the body you’re stretching. Your arms and chest are responsible for general things such as lifting or pushing, as well as delicate, dextrous tasks such as bringing a fork to your mouth or opening a coffee creamer. Stretching your arms regularly provides appropriate muscle flexibility, control, and tone to achieve all of these tasks.
The core is designed to stabilize the body and maintain posture. Strengthening the core muscles can also help relieve chronic back pain. The muscles located within the core keep you upright and straight. Stretching these muscles will stabilize your posture and provide more effective control of your balance while increasing mobility in your torso.
Your lower body (hips, thighs, calves and feet) are designed to give you power. These muscles are naturally much larger than those in the arms and chest, in order to create large movements. They also support the entire upper body and torso. The muscles in your legs supply your body with the power it needs to initiate motion, as well as to sit and stand. Stretching your lower body relaxes these muscles, allowing for better control, which they need to do their job well.
There are two types of stretches: static and dynamic.
Static stretching is a stretch done during a rest period, holding a position until gradually achieving full extension. Dynamic stretching is an active form of stretching that essentially propels the muscle into its fully extended form. Both have their benefits. Ask a physiotherapist or personal trainer if you’re unsure of which kind is right for you.
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