How Stretching Helps Injury Prevention

injury preventionAnyone who considers themselves an athlete is aware of the importance of stretching. There are numerous benefits to stretching and you should stretch before and after a workout to prevent injuries. Whether you are a runner, someone who loves lifting weights, or on a competitive sports league, you must stretch your muscles. While injury prevention is a top reason to stretch, stretching also helps to increase flexibility, improve posture, reduce aches, and much more.

Stretching helps with injury prevention by warming up the muscles. Movement is easier when your muscles are warm and stretched. When you prepare your muscles for exercise, your risk of injury significantly decreases. However, to properly stretch, you must know the correct technique and target each muscle individually. Learn more about how stretching can help with injury prevention and what stretches should be done to target specific areas of the body before you start your next workout.

Stretches That Are Important for Injury Prevention

Leg Stretches

Stretching your legs is important if you’re preparing to do any kind of cardio or court sport. While Runner’s Knee and Achilles tendinitis top the list of common running injuries, hamstring issues are third on the list and preventable with stretching. Some great stretches to warm up your hamstrings are standing toe touches and knee-to-chest stretches. Butterfly stretches will protect your groin from injury and standing soleus’ will help prevent Achilles tendon tears. This is especially important for anyone over the age of 35 as Achilles tears are more common after that age. Shin splints are also in the top ten on the list of common running injuries, so shin stretches are also important for injury prevention.

Arm Stretches

Having warmed up arms is just as important as having warmed up legs in regards to injury prevention. This is especially true when it comes to court sport athletes and weightlifters. Your arms are built of so many muscles including your triceps, biceps, and brachioradialis. it is important to stretch them all to prevent injury from occurring. The overhead tricep stretch and standing bicep stretch may bring back memories of gym class, but they are tried and true stretches that are effective. Alternating wrist pulls where you pull your hand towards your body will stretch your brachioradialis and leave your arms ready to work.

Shoulder Stretches

You may not think that your shoulders are being strained during exercise if you’re not playing tennis, squash, or another racket sport. However, it’s important to remember your shoulders are more than just a joint. They work with the neck, ribs, and scapula to create a complex area of the body that needs stretching. Arm circles are a great shoulder stretch that is easy to perform anywhere. The cow-face pose is another stretch you may remember from gym class.  When you stretch both of your arms, like you do in this stretch, you’re not only stretching muscles but increasing flexibility, too. 

When stretching for injury prevention, it is important to remember the proper technique. Stretching may seem like the warm-up, but it’s not. You need to increase your heart rate and raise your body temperature to effectively stretch. Additionally, you should hold each stretch for 30 seconds. That is the proven amount of time it takes to lengthen tissue safely and effectively. If your stretching starts to hurt, you’re pushing yourself too far. Relax, take some deep breaths, and pull back on the intensity of the stretch before continuing.

By incorporating stretching into your day-to-day routine, you’re practicing injury prevention. An injury like a torn Achilles tendon or torn ACL can devastate an athlete’s future in sports. Therefore it is crucial to remember the important of stretching and practice it diligently.