Get Flexible – The Importance Of Stretching

Stretching is one of the most important things you can do when training. If you aren’t stretching before you start training you are likely to injure yourself. When you are doing calisthenics, it is even more important to stretch because you are using your entire body to train.


The Importance Of Stretching More Than Lifting 

Stretching will help improve flexibility and prevent injury


Sometimes you can get away with not stretching if you are doing regular gym training, because you are often targeting specific muscle groups instead of everything at once. But with calisthenics training it is a completely different story.


The everything-at-once approach means that whenever you are doing a rep, you are working multiple muscles in various groups and areas of your body. If you haven’t stretched sufficiently you will hurt yourself and you won’t be able to train for a week. Not cool.


Why All The Fuss?


Stretching will enable you to move properly, it will help you maintain proper posture because you will build correct muscle tension across your entire body. Posture is very important to maintain your body. If you slouch when you are walking, you are arching your back and your shoulders, if you walk with you head up and your back straight, you will help keep your posture throughout your life. This will prevent later pains and movement problems as you age.


I will often spend 5-10 minutes stretching before and after my training session. Including the time I spend during the session stretching, I probably spend about half of my time stretching my muscles, focusing on compound stretches that benefit many parts of my body rather than just one, despite the strange looks I sometimes get at the gym.


When Should You Stretch?


Stretching before you exercise is one thing, but it is also important to continue stretching throughout your training. You are likely to be doing this anyway, because you will be used to working your muscles hard if you have done previous training, but as before it is ever more important with calisthenics.


Stretching after your workout is also very important. If you don’t, your muscles will stay tight, stretching will help build flexibility in your muscles post-exercise, to help maintain and continually improve your range of motion. When you don’t stretch after exercise, you will slowly lose you flexibility which decreases your range of motion. Calisthenics requires good flexibility, it actively builds it, but it is important to maintain your flexibility so that you can perform the exercises perfectly and thus get the most out of your training.


Stay Relaxed And Breathe


When you do stretch, you want to make sure you are getting the most out of it, you want to extend all of your muscles as far as possible. When you stretch it is important to be relaxed, you don’t want to be tensing anything as you do it.


Breathing is also very important. You want to breathe calmly throughout the streches, not hold your breath. This is equally as important when you are training, you want to keep breathing as you move, especially in calisthenics which requires long holds. You need to keep feeding your muscles with oxygen, if you are not breathing you are limiting the amount of energy you can produce and you will get exhausted much faster.


The Importance Of Stretching


Most of our muscles move in one direction, they contract. Thats why muscles come in groups, one counteracts the other’s movements and that is how we move about. If we only had biceps, for example, and not triceps, we would only be able to close arms at the elbow and we wouldn’t be able to then extend our arms again, the triceps, counteract this movement by contracting in the other direction. This is how we straighten our arms.


That may seem like basic knowledge but it  highlights the importance of stretching our whole body. If we only stretch some parts of our body, those ones will be able to move better than the others, this can cause problems with your posture and even lead to more serious damage.


If you only stretched your legs, your legs would be able to move fine, you would rarely have tight muscles or joint pains, but if you didn’t stretch your back, you would be neglecting that part of your body and you wouldn’t be as flexible or have as good muscle tension in that area. You would slouch or your back might bend slightly causing your shoulders to lean to one side. This could lead to more severe problems later down the line, or even sooner if you start training your back all of a sudden.


If we stretch our whole body regularly, we increase our total range of motion, and we don’t just focus on certain aspects, like our legs our our shoulders.


If you really want to improve your flexibility, which I would highly recommend, develop a habit of stretching regularly throughout the day. Stretching in the morning will help wake you up and will help you get your body ready for the day. When you sleep you don’t really move a lot and your muscles are very relaxed. Spending a few minutes in the morning will help align all your bones, this is a great way to improve your posture because people start slouching and walking awkwardly when their muscles are still half asleep, waking them up will ensure you will walk out the door upright and it will enable your body to move properly.


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