Stretching is often not very popular among endurance athletes. It is important because it prevents muscle shortening. Strengthening is always a part of stretching because the muscles in the body are always arranged in pairs. In order for them to be balanced, one must be stretched and the other strengthened. This gives him enough power to counteract his opponent’s moves.
Particular stress during sedentary activities
In particular, two muscle groups are affected in people who sit a lot: the shoulder muscle and the hip flexor. Anyone who works a lot on the computer is usually bent forward, the pectoral muscle is shortened and the shoulders are pulled forward. Therefore, the back muscles need to be strengthened and the chest muscles stretched.
Counteract hip flexion shortening
The opponent of the hip flexor is the gluteus muscle – it must be strengthened while the hip flexor must be stretched. A shortened hip flexion can have serious consequences for body and health, as sports researcher and triathlon coach Stefan Drexl shows: “A shortened hip flexion can cause back pain, especially in the lumbar spine. It is often treated locally for no reason – the shortening of the muscles – fix it. that the pain keeps coming back and it can lead to a herniated disc. “
Like a watch pendulum
Everything is connected in the body, there are muscle loops that lead from the foot to the calf, thigh and buttocks to the lumbar spine. Simply put, the legs are suspended from the lumbar spine. Stefan Drexl likes to compare it to a watch pendulum. This is usually deflected evenly on both sides. However, if one of the ropes is shortened, the pendulum will swing stronger on one side and weaker on the other. The result: the clock gets out of step. It is the same in our body.
In case of pain: seek medical advice
Tension is therefore important, but it has a preventive effect. Anyone who is already suffering from pain should seek medical attention to avoid making the problem worse.
Extension through yoga integrated into everyday life
Giulia Wolff was an active gymnast in her youth, she participated in state competitions and German championships. Extent was a big part of her life. She now studies law and therefore spends a lot of time at her desk, in front of her laptop or over the books in the library. As compensation, she continues to play sports: she swims, runs and bikes – triathlon offers many variations. She participated in a swimming seminar with video analysis from Stefan Drexl.
In her everyday life, however, the student has noticed that her body can no longer tolerate uncomfortable positions so easily. The athlete did not know this before and has therefore integrated stretching back into his everyday life – through yoga. This strengthens the body awareness, and with the different positions, asanas offer gentle stretches that can be dosed according to mobility.
Triathlon trainer Drexl: three to five stretching units per week
Stretching and strengthening is good for everyone who sits a lot – whether they are athletic or not. It provides balance and prevents muscle shortening. Triathlon coach Stefan Drexl recommends three to five stretching units in half an hour a week – it sounds like a lot, but compared to the many hours we spend eating, working and watching TV, it is still a bit.
Develop a step-by-step routine
It is best to start small, five minutes every two to three days. After about a month, you will feel that you are feeling well and the new routine has fallen into place. Giulia no longer wants to do without her morning yoga routine. She does not always have time to get on the mat for 15 to 20 minutes – but she always has five minutes. “And I enjoy it all day long, so I can only recommend it to everyone,” says the former gymnast.
Always pay attention!
Important when stretching: Always be careful, go in and out of the stretch slowly. Extension helps prevent ailments, so it’s never too early to start.
Giulia’s hip flexion exercise:
- Sit on the edge of the chair
- Cross your left leg over your right so that your left ankle rests on your right knee
- Straighten your torso
- With your back straight, bend forward until you feel a good stretch
- Hold the position for four to five slow breaths
- Change page
Stefan’s exercise for the pectoral muscles
- Stand against a wall
- Place the forearm vertically against the wall (the forearm is at shoulder height, the forearm is stretched vertically upwards, the elbow joint is bent at shoulder height)
- Turn the head and upper body to the opposite side, thereby stretching the front of the chest
- Breathe lightly
- Change page
General stretching tips
- Always pay attention, walk slowly in and out of the stretch
- Do not go too deep in the stretch, a little pain is okay
- Keep breathing
- Schedule three to five 30-minute stretching sessions each week
- Stretching and strengthening go together because the muscles in the body work in pairs