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To Stretch Or Not To Stretch? A Guide For Women Who Move

Written by: Kate Georgiadis, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 
Executive Contributor Kate Georgiadis

Stretching has long been a staple in the quest for fitness and well-being. Yet the science of stretching, particularly around workouts, is more nuanced than one might think. As regular women juggling the demands of life, health, and fitness, it’s crucial to understand not just how to move but how to prepare our bodies for movement.

 

Woman at gym stretching

Recent research in sports medicine sheds light on a fascinating aspect of stretching that many of you might not be aware of. When we engage in static stretching—the process of holding a stretch for a prolonged period—we're actually triggering a neuromuscular inhibitory response. In simpler terms, the muscle we're stretching becomes less responsive and weakens for up to 30 minutes post-stretch. This revelation is particularly significant for anyone about to start a workout. Starting exercise with weakened muscles is far from ideal, whether you're an athlete or a fitness enthusiast looking to get the most out of your routine.

 

The ideal warm-up: Loosen and heat


A well-structured warm-up serves a dual purpose: it loosens muscles and tendons to enhance joint mobility and increases body heat and blood flow. Why does this matter? At rest, our muscles and tendons receive less blood flow, leading them to stiffen. By making our tissues more pliable and warming up our bodies, we optimize our muscles' ability to pull oxygen from the bloodstream and use stored fuel more effectively, enhancing their resilience against the demands of physical activity.

 

The power of dynamic stretching


Contrary to static stretching, dynamic stretching—or stretching muscles through movement—does not weaken them. Instead, it sends an “excitatory message,” encouraging muscles to prepare for action rather than relaxation. This type of stretching increases power and flexibility and improves range of motion without the inhibitory downside of static stretches.


Moreover, dynamic stretches that mimic the movements required in your workout or sport can be incredibly effective (i.e. bodyweight squats before heavy squats). This specificity ensures that all relevant joints and connective tissues are activated and ready for the challenges ahead.

 

In conclusion


What does all this mean for your fitness routine? Start your workout with 5 minutes of cardio to get the heart racing, then ease into dynamic stretching and bodyweight movements or lighter sets of your main lifts. That way your body is better prepared not just physically but neurologically, ensuring that when it's time to move, your muscles are ready to perform at their best. Your body—and your workout performance—might just thank you for it.


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Kate Georgiadis Brainz Magazine
 

Kate Georgiadis, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Kate Georgiadis is a pioneer in women's fitness and empowerment, combining her Master’s in Education and Psychology with a dual Master’s in Exercise Science, specializing in Strength, Conditioning, and Sports Performance. An advocate for holistic wellness, her methods focus on Empowerment, Education, and Community. Offering personal training, group classes, and nutritional coaching, Kate and her company help women excel in their health, careers, and social lives. She has guided hundreds in surpassing fitness goals while creating a supportive community where every woman’s fitness journey is shared, celebrated, and sustained.

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