The Benefits of Stretching

Stretching exercises to increase range of motion are best practised after the cardiovascular cool-down or after the muscle toning section of your workout. The temperature of the soft tissues is most likely elevated, making this time in the workout ideal for increasing flexibility. Stretching cold muscles is a definite no-no as it could lead to injury.

Static, or hold stretching, is probably the most commonly used flexibility technique and is very safe and effective. With this technique, a muscle or muscle group is gradually stretched to the point of limitation, and then typically held in that position for a period of 15 to 30 seconds.

There's a whole raft of scientific research to support the following benefits of stretching ...

 Increase in functional range of motion
 Reduction of lower back pain
 Reduction in the incidence and severity of injury
 Improvement in posture
 Delay in the onset of muscular fatigue

... not to mention an increase in the level of certain skills

Factors Influencing Flexibility

There tends to be a decrease in flexibility with ageing, largely attributed to a loss in elasticity in the connective tissues surrounding the muscles, which go through a normal shortening process resulting from a lack of physical activity.

Due to this loss of joint mobility, older people are more susceptible to injury from vigorous physical activity. Regular exercise, including stretching exercises, can minimise the effect of this age-related decrease in range of motion.

But that's not all ...

1. Females tend to be more flexible than males of the same age throughout life, generally attributed to anatomical variations in joint structures.
2. It is very well established that flexibility is specific to each joint. For example, trained dancers demonstrate superior flexibility of the ankle and leg but only moderate flexibility in their upper torsos.
3. Participation in regular exercise generally enhances flexibility.
4. An increase in body temperature via a warm-up or the participation in physical activity will increase range of motion. A lowering in body temperature is associated with a decrease in flexibility.
5. Arm and leg length, arm span, height, and weight do not significantly affect range of motion.
6. Resistance training in which exercises are executed through a full range of motion may help to improve a person's flexibility.
7. During pregnancy, the pelvic joints and ligaments are relaxed and capable of greater range of motion.

For more information on health, wellbeing, beauty and fitness, please explore The Expert Zone for a variety of helpful hints and tips.

This article was written by Dean Hodgkin - Health & Fitness Consultant at Ragdale Hall for Waitrose Magazine

Featured Offers
Latest News
  • Latest awards...
  • TripAdvisor certificate of excellence 2017
  • Natural Health Magazine Highly Commended 2016
  • SpaFinder Wellness 2016
  • Good Spa Guide Five Bubbles
  • Spa Traveller - Best Wellness Spa UK 2015