Stretching is a personal choice, but here are six things to consider.
- Personal choice
Firstly, stretching is personal – some find it benefits them, others may hate it and find it pointless. Listen to your body, to see what is right for you. If you are unsure, try both options. You will soon see which suits.
- Are you carrying an Injury?
It also depends on whether you are injured. If you are carrying a small injury it is no harm to gently stretch the area – getting it warmed up in advance, improving synovial fluid around a joint for example, or getting blood flow to a muscle.
- Your Age
Age may also determine whether you stretch. As we age our muscles become less flexible. It may help if running, for example, to gently jog for five or ten minutes, stretch and then go into your proper run.
- Your stress level
Your level of stress is also important. Under high levels of stress, increased blood flow goes to the muscles, to help in the fight or flight syndrome. Adrenalin is up and the system is flowing well. However, under prolonged stress muscles will be tighter due to more tension in the body. If you are conscious of this, slight stretching before you run may help.
- Sitting all day?
If you have been sitting in an office job and then the car all day and you are out for your evening run a small bit of dynamic stretching, particularly around the hips, back and shoulders – all areas used in running, but tightened up by their static position all day – may help.
Also to avoid injury, drink plenty of water during the day and keep hydrated, particularly if you work in air-conditioned offices,
And finally, if cramps are impeding your exercise routine, most people will suggest bananas for their potassium, but also think of magnesium, which is important in helping muscles relax. A word of caution however! Electrolytes work in pairs. Potassium is paired with sodium. If you aren’t working out hard, or sweating much, too many bananas can cause palpitations.
Similarly, calcium and magnesium work together – too much of one will end up in deficiency of the other. This is why it is important when supplementing to take a holistic view of what you are doing, rather than following a trend and self-prescribing one particular vitamin or mineral.
Finally, don’t forget stretching can be important for all sports, whether you play golf, run, lift weights or dance. Listen to your body to decide what is best for you.
If you would like to know more about your optimum vitamin/mineral mix or advice on nutrition for sports performance, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.