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Health and fitness: Importance of health?

Importance of health?

MIXED RESULTS. Studies that have attempted to identify the benefits of stretching have produced inconclusive results. Some investigations have found that stretching can be quite helpful, whereas others have determined that minimal if any, benefits occur. Anecdotally, however, advocates of stretching promote several positive by-products of this particular form of exercising, including increased range of motion in the joints, improved muscular coordination, reduced level of muscle tissue tension, and enhanced level of blood circulation to various parts of the body.


When individuals stretch, they should focus on the major muscles and joints in their body (e.g., legs, hips, lower back, neck, and shoulders) – the ones that likely will be involved in the activity that follows. It also is important for a stretching regimen to be bilateral. Both sides of the body should be stretched.


Stretching exercises should be performed slowly and smoothly. Stretching exercises done in a bouncing manner can be counterproductive. Not only can undue stress be placed on the joint(s), small tears in the muscle(s) also can occur. Furthermore, because these tears can leave scar tissue as the muscle heals, which will tighten the muscle even further, the net result can be that the exerciser will wind up less flexible and more prone to pain.
Although exercising should not be painful, stretching may cause some individuals to experience a degree of muscle soreness for a few days. Pain, on the other hand, is a signal that a person has stretched too far. The underlying expectation while stretching should be to feel tension, rather than pain, in the involved muscles and connective tissues.


On occasion, individuals need to be alert to the fact that under some circumstances, they should either abstain from stretching entirely or modify their stretching regimen as appropriate. For example, stretching an already strained muscle or ligament may cause further harm. Stretching also should be avoided when a joint or a muscle is inflamed, infected, or injured or when a sharp pain is felt in a joint or muscle.


Four basic types of stretching techniques exist – ballistic, dynamic, static, and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF). Of the four options, ballistic stretching is not recommended because of the safety issues attendant to the bouncing involved. Dynamic stretching commonly is used as a supplemental part of an individual’s warm-up routine. Static stretching and PNF stretching, on the other hand, are widely used methods for increasing range of motion (flexibility).


The findings of a few research studies suggest that individuals with an inordinate level of flexibility actually may be susceptible to a greater risk of injury particularly if the excessive flexibility compromises joint integrity. On the other hand, it should be noted that exceptional flexibility and structurally sound joint integrity are not mutually exclusive. A person can have both.

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