Static stretching is hugely beneficial for muscle recovery, but you can't benefit from it if you're not doing it or just doing it incorrectly. Maybe you are using static stretches but it's possible that your timing is poor. Did you know that grade schools often teach stretching to be incorporated before a practice or competition? Society is set in this belief when they start working out on their own.
Let's get educated about static stretching and give you a better idea of how to incorporate its use.
Static stretches are when you take a portion of your body and move into a position where joints, muscles, and tendons are placed into a stretch (aka pull). This stretch is static, which means no further movement is made until releasing the stretch from its position.
Static stretching can provide the following benefits:
Static stretches should be held for approximately 10-30 seconds depending on your flexibility level, and a total of 3x for each stretch for proper recovery. Doing 1x set for each stretch is fine if you're short on time, but if you have the time - do more sets! Pro Tip: DO NOT bounce during the stretch!
As mentioned there are improper times to execute this type of stretching that may cause injury instead of improvement. Evidence shows that performing static stretches prior to intense training or competition reduces muscular strength, which is why it’s better to perform dynamic stretches (jumping jacks etc.) or a general warm up like light cardio.
Another bad time is before your muscles are warmed up. This is something that most people are guilty of when it comes to static stretching. Doing this could damage muscle fibers and actually cause an uncomfortable and painful muscle strain.
In order to reduce these risks, you should consider performing a 5-10 minute warmup prior to engaging in static stretches. How do you accomplish this task? Simply jump rope, jog, or perform mountain climbers for a cardio-based warmup. Bodyweight squats and pushups work well for strength based warming up.
The intent is not to get a workout in, but rather to get your muscles and joints warmed up to allow static stretches the ability to accomplish the benefits they were intended to. All of this while preventing injury.
Muscle recovery is something very much desired by athletes and fitness enthusiasts. Proper recovery not only relieves the stiffness and soreness but also makes room for better muscle growth.
Let’s clarify though that DOMS is not preventable. If you use your muscles more than they normally would be used on a daily basis; then your muscles are probably going to be sore for a bit. Microscopic muscles tears occur when you train at even higher intensities.
Static stretches also improve recovery because they increase blood flow to your muscle cells, and this improved flow draws in more nutrients to support protein synthesis. Simply put, protein synthesis is when your body uses digested protein to repair damaged protein cells in muscles.
If you’re experiencing intense muscle stiffness or cramps following a workout this could be DOMS mixed with nutrient deficiencies. This is why a lot of people consume plenty of coconut water, green veggies, and bananas as they all contain high amounts of micronutrients, especially minerals which aid in recovery.
Quality supplements such as Vital 4U’s multivitamins can alleviate this by ensuring that your body has enough nutrients to match your physical lifestyle. Of course, you still need to eat a well-rounded diet and a good multivitamin supplement covers the rest of your needs and fills in the gaps.
Perform static stretches properly and consume enough nutrients for better muscle recovery.
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