The Importance of Stretching

It’s common knowledge amongst athletes that, before and after any fitness routine or exercise, stretching is essential. What’s more, stretching should be an important part of your everyday life. But why is that?

Stretching is an essential part of the warming down and cooling down parts of your workout, yet in a rush to shorten down routine times, it can be rushed, improvised, and sometimes ignored altogether. A couple of arm stretches across the body simply isn’t enough. Furthermore, many athletes in training fail to incorporate a wide range of flexibility and stretch work into their exercise plans, which can diminish their results greatly.

Here, we’re going to explore what, exactly, the importance of stretching is. What’s the role it plays in training and how do you make sure you give it the time and attention that it needs?

The Importance of Flexibility

Flexible muscles are the key benefit of stretching. It helps keep them healthy and strong and ensures that you get the range of motion that you should. Fail to stretch and your muscles become tighter and shorter, which means that they’re not able to extend as much as they should when you try to get them to work.

Flexibility is an even more important part of injury prevention during training. You’re much more susceptible not only to joint pain but muscle damage that could keep you out of the gym and out of the game for long periods of time.

If you don’t maintain flexibility, trying to call on your tightened muscles when performing suddenly stretches them more than they’re used to. Injuring your muscles can also injure your joints if they’re not strong enough to support them. You need to stretch regularly to ensure your muscles are long and flexible and even to ensure better balance and posture.

Other Benefits of Stretching

Beyond your flexibility and range of motion, stretching is good for you for a range of other reasons. These include improved circulation, which helps better supply oxygen to muscles around the body, shortening recovery times after exercise. Stretching releases the tension in your muscles, helping relieve stress both after exercise and in daily life, too.

What Should You Stretch?

Many young athletes who haven’t learned the real importance of stretching may only work on a few “key areas” before and after workouts. However, you have a lot of muscles and there are several key areas that need to be addressed. Those most important include the calves, hamstrings, hip flexors, and the front of your thighs. A full daily stretch program should also target the shoulders, lower back, and your neck. Beyond warming up and cooling down, you should aim to stretch all these areas four times a week.

Proper Stretching Technique

Traditional knowledge says that stretching is part of the warm up for any workout routine but the truth is that it should actually be done after warming up. When your muscles are cold, not only can strenuous exercise hurt them but stretching can, as well. It’s important to warm up a little first with roughly ten minutes of light, non-impactful exercise, like walking, to get the blood flowing and make sure the muscle is ready for the stretch.

Stretching should be done before and after exercise, with every stretch being held for 30 seconds on each side. Bouncing during stretches can increase your risk of injury and, while you should feel a slight burning sensation during the stretch, it shouldn’t be physically painful. If you do feel any significant pain, stop stretching immediately. Make sure to relax and don’t hold your breath.

The Importance of Stretching in the Long-Term

It takes more than a single session of stretching to help lengthen your muscles and improve your flexibility. The tighter and shorter your muscles, the more important it is to repeat the practice several times a week. However, as the weeks go on, you can start to notice the benefits during exercise. Once your body is at peak flexibility, commitment to the plan is essential for maintaining that range of movement, as well.

At William Bradley Sports Performance, we offer sports performance training for athletes of all levels across all disciplines. Find out more about our services, schedule a session or get in touch to learn how to effectively take your game to the next level.

Pre Workout 101 – What Young Athletes Need to Know

We’ve always had the concept of fueling up before a workout, whether it’s a banana smoothie or a raw egg yolk stirred up in a glass. Pre-workout athletic supplements are the latest in the line of workout fuel on the market and are much more appetizing than a raw egg.

However, before you start using them, it’s wise to know what exactly they are, how they can benefit you and any risks they might post. Here, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about athletic supplements and their role in youth athletic nutrition.

The purpose of pre-workout supplements

The term “pre-workout supplement” can include a whole range of products and ingredients. In most cases, it applies to powders that are mixed into milk. They can contain a range of ingredients, many of which are touted as improving your focus, helping the recovery process (which is the key purpose of those labelled as “protein shakes), and helping to keep you energetic.

The purpose of each pre-workout supplement is best figured out by looking at what the ingredients are. Most common are protein for muscle recovery, caffeine as a stimulant that can increase focus and help you stick with exercises for longer, and carbs to fuel your workout.

As there is a huge range of pre-workout supplements, any blanket statement supposed to apply to all of them isn’t going to help very much. However, in terms of benefits, a lot of them do contain ingredients that can help you work out better for longer and see better returns for your hard work. They work to quickly help restore many of the substances in the body that get used before a workout.

However, there are plenty of less-trustworthy products out there with ingredients that may be of no help and could even potentially be dangerous. While caffeine can be helpful, it can also overstimulate you, leading to jitteriness and quick increases in the heart rate, which one should always be careful of.

Should you be taking pre-workout?

With careful use of the right products, preferably with the supervision of a professional who knows a good supplement when they see them, you can benefit from pre-workout supplements. However, it’s not essential. A more thorough focus on youth athletic nutrition can see your body get all the fuel it needs for workouts without needing to turn to any extra help. If you’re interested in pre-workout supplements, just be a little skeptical about what you take. It’s best to stick with proven and traditional protein shakes, monitor your caffeine intake, and avoid any “special formulas” that you don’t fully understand.

Is it safe for younger athletes?

For younger athletes, any skepticism should be doubled. If you’re on a healthy diet with plenty of protein and get the right carb intake before exercises, not only is it wise to avoid pre-workout supplements, but they may not impact your performance in the slightest.

How should you take pre-workout?

If you’re certain that you’re using a safe, reliable, well-studied and well-reviewed pre-workout supplement, then you need to make sure that you’re taking it right, as well. For one, don’t take it on an empty stomach, and don’t take it too late or too early. It lasts for around 3-6 hours on average and takes about 45 minutes to kick into effect.

How much you should take depends on what’s in it. The instructions should tell you how many scoops you need for a certain volume of milk. If your pre-workout contains caffeine and you’re worried about the potential of overstimulation, take half of the recommended measure, instead.

What should you look for in a good pre-workout?

The type of pre-workout supplement you should try depends on what kind of exercise you’re going to do. Protein is important for all exercises, and caffeine is preferred in many. Creatine is the other most common ingredient, helping to increase muscle mass and performance, but is mostly useful for strength training.

Supplements you should avoid include any that aren’t thoroughly researched or easily understood. Some common warning signs are proprietary blends, which can hide all kinds of ingredients, ingredient lists that are way too long, and supplements with too much caffeine,

If you want to get the best out of your strength training, pre-workout athletic supplements can provide some help. However, the guidance of a professional through both training and youth athletic nutrition can help even more. Check out our training programs at William Bradley SP, and schedule a class to let us help you up your game. Athletic supplements aren’t enough, you need a comprehensive approach to athletic performance.

The Vitamin Shoppe Fitness Expo

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On August 17, William Bradley Sports Performance took part in the Vitamin Shoppe Fitness Expo. Each quarter, the Vitamin Shoppe franchise holds this event at every nationwide location allowing local health/wellness businesses the opportunity to set up a table to advertise during store hours. The broad range of the health/wellness industry was definitely well represented, from private practices owned by M.D.’s, to chiropractors, to multiple trainers within the fitness industry. A huge thank you goes out to the staff of Jeff Blanchard, Kathy Pavelzik, and Mark Frick representing the Vitamin Shoppe location on Wendover Avenue in Greensboro.