Health
Benefits of Stretching

Nick UgoalahA competitive wrestler's worst nightmare is a career threatening injury. One that is serious enough to end a career or side-track it for days, months or even years.

Most people know why they exercise. They perform cardiovascular training to increase the strength and efficiency of the heart and lungs. They weight train to become stronger and more contoured.

Most wrestlers pay little attention to warming up and stretching. These should be essential to your conditioning program. Before working out, take a few minutes to prepare for the workout by warming the body up especially the joints, tendons and muscles. A cold joint, connective tissue, or muscle can be easily injured if you start lifting heavy weights without a proper warm-up and stretch.

Think of your muscles like a sponge. If the sponge is dry and you pull on it, it will easily tear and crumble. If the sponge has been dampened in warm water, you will have a more pliable and flexible sponge.

Another example, take an elastic band, soak it in a glass of cold water for a few minutes and then try to stretch it; it will snap apart. But if you soak it in a glass of hot water, it will become soft and pliable (having the capability to stretch twice as far as the cold elastic and difficult to pull apart.)

Smart wrestlers spend 10-15 mins warming up before each workout to get some heat into their bodies. Aerobic activities such as skipping, running on a treadmill, riding a stationary bike, or using the stair climber can help to accomplish the warm-up. Then follow with some easy stretching to warm the joints, muscles and connective tissue. Make sure that you are perspiring a little before you stretch, then stretch slowly and gently. Ease into your stretches and hold. Avoid jerking or bouncing as it can lead to strains, pulls and other kinds of injuries. Then add some light calistentics to apply light resistance on your muscles; pushups, squats (freehand), jumping jacks, toe raises, squat jumps will accomplish this task. These exercises will prepare the body for the work to come. Finally, perform a light warm-up set of the type of exercises that are about to come. For example, for bench press, take an empty bar and do 20-25 reps. Then add about 50% of your max and do 15-20 reps.

A proper warm-up done properly prepares the body for the activity to follow by:

  • elevating the core body temperature
  • elevating muscle temperature
  • lubricating joints
  • gradually increasing the load on the circulatory system -improves neuro-muscular coordination
  • decreases muscular tension and loosens up formerly injured areas -increases the rate at which energy is released in the body

Author: Nick is a 3-time CIAU (Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union) National Champion wrestler. Nick currently helps people to achieve balance and more fulfillment in their personal lives through his personal training and lifestyle consulting business in Vancouver.

>> See also: Stretching and Warm-up Exercises

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About The Author
Nick Ugoalah is a Commonwealth Games Gold Medalist (2002) and 3 time Canadian Champion in Freestyle Wrestling. Although he is now retired, he remains close to the sport he loves, donating time and skills to coaching. He is also a much sought-after professional speaker, noted for his inspirational style. Nick has recently launched his career as an achievement coach for entrepreneurs, other business people, athletes and individuals who simply want to achieve more in their lives. You can reach him at: nick@ugohp.com.
 

 

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