Where I Live
A-Z Index
BBC Sport Academy
BBC Sport You are in: In the Gym: Features  

In the Gym
Jargon Guide

Latest Sports News
Academy Parent

Get the newsletter
Why stretching so good for your body
Around the Academy:

Tiger Woods stretches his arm muscles
Even Tiger needs to do a few stretches

Your muscles have a certain length to which they stretch and contract when exercising.

This length is controlled by the muscle's own suppleness, as well the sheaths of tissue that surround the muscles and keep them in place.

The muscle's active stretching length can be improved by doing stretching exercises, which in turn will benefit your performance on the field.

So not only is stretching a good way of warming up before any physical activity, it's also a great way to improve your overall suppleness and flexibility.

Glenn McGrath stretches his injured back
Fast bowlers like Glenn McGrath need to be flexible

Stretching is also important when you're coming back from a muscle injury.

An injured muscle will heal with a bruise that forms a scar, which is slowly converted back into muscle tissue.

The injury will feel stiff and sore early on, but will become less painful as the muscle heals.

Because it helps to improve blood flow to the muscles, stretching an injured muscle will speed up the recovery by improving blood flow to the area.

Good blood flow is important for an injured muscle as the healing tissues need oxygen to get better.

And the more oxygen brought to the tissues by the extra flow of blood, the faster you'll be back in action.

However, be careful not to stretch too soon after an injury as this could actually make it worse rather than improve it.

Consult your physio for treatment and guidance to work out an effective stretching and rehabilitation program.

So when your coach calls stretch time during your warm-ups or warm-downs, be sure to remember that you're stretching your way to a healthier, more supple and better performance level.

Back to top

Stretching secrets
Muscle benefits

What do muscles do?
Muscles turn energy into motion
There are three types of muscles in the human body
Skeletal muscle: These are voluntary, meaning you can think and your nervous system will move them eg biceps, triceps, quads
Smooth muscle: These are involuntary, so your nervous system moves them without having to think about them eg stomach, blood vessels and bladder
Cardiac muscle: These are the muscles that make the heart work and are involuntary

^^ Back to top
© BBC Contact us | Help | About us Disclaimer
Football  |  Cricket  |  Tennis  |  Golf  |  Rugby Union  |  Rugby League  |  Athletics  |  Basketball  |  Swimming
Other Sport  |  In the Gym  |  Healthy Eating  |  Treatment Room  |  Your Blueprint  |  Learning Centre