It can be easy to forget to stretch. Oftentimes, it’s overlooked because the results aren’t as visible as lifting weights or doing an excessive amount of cardio. Afterall, the main concern is exercising – not stretching – right? That’s where most people can be mistaken.
Stretching is crucial to a well-rounded workout plan. In fact, it’s just as important as strength and cardio.
Why Stretching is Important
Stretching just one time isn’t going to miraculously make you flexible. But consistent practice is critical to reaping the benefits of stretching.
Regular stretching strengthens muscles and increases your overall range of motion. This improves athletic performance – imagine an easier, less restricted golf swing or tennis serve – and functional abilities, such as bending or stooping during daily tasks. Stretching can also be a great way to get you moving in the morning or a way to relax after a long day.
Good stretching practice can help reduce worries about injuries when your muscles are loose and flexible enough to bounce back. A panel of experts convened by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) reviewed a wide range of studies and agreed that:
- Healthy adults should do flexibility exercises (stretches, yoga, or tai chi) for all major muscle-tendon groups—neck, shoulders, chest, trunk, lower back, hips, legs, and ankles—at least two to three times a week.
- For optimal results, you should spend a total of 60 seconds on each stretching exercise. So, if you can hold a particular stretch for 15 seconds, repeating it three more times would be ideal. If you can hold the stretch for 20 seconds, two more repetitions would do the trick.
What is PNF stretching
At Reach Stretch Studios, our Certified Stretch Therapists use a stretching technique called Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation or PNF for short. PNF stretching relies on your own body’s reflexes to produce deeper stretches that in return increase flexibility.
The technique was first developed in the 1940s by Dr. Herman Kabat as a means to treat neuromuscular conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis and Polio. In recent years, it’s gained popularity by physical therapists and other fitness professionals. According to research from the University of Queensland, PNF stretching may be the most effective stretching technique for increasing range of motion.
How does PNF work
PNF relies on stretching the muscle to its limit, which prompts the inverse myotatic reflex – a protective reflex that calms the muscle to prevent injury. This technique works on almost every muscle in the body and looks like:
- Putting a muscle in a stretched position and holding for a few seconds.
- Contracting the muscle without moving such as pushing gently against the stretch.
- Relaxing the stretch, and then stretching again while exhaling. This second stretch should be deeper than the first.
It’s important not to stretch to the point of pain, and our Certified Stretch Therapists will be there with you every stretch of the way making sure you’re receiving a healthy, beneficial stretch.
Even if you’re not planning to strenuously exercise, it’s still critical to stretch in order to receive the benefits for your body and your mind. Our membership-based, spa-like locations offer a complimentary first session; private stretching rooms; personalized therapies utilizing technology and performance; plus, perks such as advanced hydration, hot towel treatments and neck stretches.