Stretching in my opinion is one of the most underutilized and underestimated physical activities we do. How many of you walk into the gym or get ready to hit the trail and maybe touch your toes before diving right into your workout? Worse yet, how do you think low levels of flexibility can negatively impact a back country hunt? Can anyone say unexpected injury miles from help in a rugged environment?
Back Country Benefits
Stretching has several benefits that you should be aware of. For the hunter athlete increased flexibility and full range of motion are the two most important. You want your body to be able to move the way it was intended as you traverse unpredictable footing and contort yourself into unusual positions to get that once in a lifetime shot. Also, stretching allows your body to move easier. By that I mean it’s not fighting itself by trying to overcome the resistance of tight muscles. I know I need all of my energy going to getting me up the mountain and not trying to overcome tight muscles.
Stretching your muscles after a workout helps to increase blood flow thus bringing more oxygen and nutrients to them to aid in your recovery.
Tight muscles cause tension in the body. Tension causes stress. See where I’m going with this? Stretching has stress relief qualities that keep you healthy mentally which is imperative to maintaining a regimented workout schedule and healthy diet.
I have employed stretching prior to bedtime as a means to relax my body and prepare for a better and easier night of sleeping.
Your posture also benefits practicing a stretching routine. Your muscles are lengthened during the process and in turn allows your body to rest comfortably in its intended position.
Dynamic and Static
There are generally two types of stretching that are discussed, dynamic and static. Simply stated, dynamic stretches utilize movement to take joints and muscles through their range of motion. Static stretches are reach and hold type exercises. Both have a place in your daily workout. It is usually stated that you should begin your workout with dynamic type stretches and finish with a good static stretch session.
If you’re a total exercise junkie then you may have read some recent discussion that stretching is not necessarily beneficial and in some instances detrimental to performance. I personally have not bought into this train of thought. I don’t know if it’s the years of the importance of stretching being pounded into my head or the lifelong benefits I have gained and maintained through stretching but my stance is stretching is very important for a healthy and injury free body. I’ll keep reading on the topic but until these claims are fully understood I’ll be the guy getting my stretch on before and after my workouts.
I’ll be following up this article with subsequent articles on recommended stretches. So keep at it, you August bowhunters don’t have long before you’ll be in the field. Don’t wait…make it happen.