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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 January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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