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10 Facts About Stretching You Need to Know

10 Facts About Stretching You Need to Know

If you’ve ever participated in a sport, your coach probably taught you a simple fundamental: make sure you stretch to warm up those tight muscles and prevent injuries. Sounds like reasonable advice, right?

Turns out coach may not have been completely right. While certain types of stretching can be useful before and after workouts, you can actually inhibit your performance or, worse, hurt yourself by doing the wrong types of stretches at the wrong times.

In this article, you’ll learn 10 science-proven facts about stretching, so you can experience the benefits of stretching while avoiding injuries.

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1. Stretching before a workout can inhibit your performance.

A study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that static stretching before a workout reduced participants’ strength in the squat by 8.36 percent, and reduced lower-body stability by 22.68 percent. A research review of 104 studies found that static stretching reduces overall strength in the stretched muscles by almost 5.5 percent. You might want to try…

2. Dynamic stretching is better when warming up.

Research shows that to avoid a decrease in strength and performance before an athletic performance, you should do dynamic stretches during your warm-up. Dynamic stretches involve moving while you stretch. Examples include burpees, jumping jacks, leg kicks, squats, lunges and pushups.

3. To increase range of motion, try PNF stretching.

PNF, or proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching, is a series of multi-joint, rotational movements that involve both the stretching and contraction of the muscle group being targeted. Research shows that PNF-type stretching may be more effective for immediate gains when it comes to increasing your muscular range of motion.

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4. Stretching does not prevent muscle soreness.

One study found that stretching before or after exercising does not protect you from muscle soreness. While it’s still good to stretch after a workout to increase your balance and flexibility, it won’t do much to ease those aching muscles. Try an icepack and some ibuprofen instead.

5. Stretching improves your flexibility.

Stretching is still one of the best ways to get a more flexible, nimble body. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) says “flexibility training is a vital component of a well-rounded fitness program.” Try incorporating some stretching movements after your workouts and on your off days.

6. Stretching can decrease your risk of injury.

As long as you don’t do static stretches before you exercise, stretching can help increase your flexibility and decrease your risk of injury.

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7. Stretching increases blood flow to your muscles.

Stretching increases blood flow to the parts of your body that need it most. This can help you avoid a whole host of injuries down the road. Keep that blood flowing by…

8. Stretching throughout the day is a good idea.

Most of us sit down for a good part of the day, which wreaks havoc on your posture and can decrease your life expectancy by two years, according to research. Stretching for short periods throughout the day helps loosen up tight muscles and prevent injuries.

9. You should never bounce when you stretch.

Bouncing while you perform static stretches is one of the easiest ways to injure yourself. Warm up dynamically instead by doing body weight exercises like lunges and squats.

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10. Stretch on both sides to keep everything balanced.

Balance is a critical component of stretching. Make sure you focus on both sides when you stretch out. Hone in on the muscle groups you know you’ll use most. For example, if you’re warming up before a pick-up basketball game, do some jump squats, burpees, and push-ups to get your legs, core and shoulders loose. If you’re warming up for a run, try a few walking lunges, squats and pull-ups.

Featured photo credit: Nicholas_T via flickr.com

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Scott Christ

Scott Christ is a writer, entrepreneur, and founder of Pure Food Company.

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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