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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 November 11, 2019

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

4. Feed Your Brain

Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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6. Write it Down

If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

7. Listen to Music

Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

8. Visual Concepts

In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

9. Teach Someone Else

Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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