Northwest Horizons

Athletes stretch for the long run

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Sophomore basketball player Hannah Baker stretches out her arm before practice. Stretching helps athletes prepare for the activity ahead of them.

Sophomore basketball player Hannah Baker stretches out her arm before practice. Stretching helps athletes prepare for the activity ahead of them.

Sophomore basketball player Hannah Baker stretches out her arm before practice. Stretching helps athletes prepare for the activity ahead of them.

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Before any athletic event, one probably sees a team stretching and warming up on the sidelines. Athletes stretch their soft tissues before activity, these include their muscles, tendons, joints and their skin. When these areas of the body are warmed up, the athlete is able to extend them further because they are thermo-elastic.

Stretching also prevents injuries including tearing the achille’s tendon and pulling a muscle like a hamstring. Junior Sara Grace Altabet stresses these injuries and stretches well before and after running in track.

“I stretch before and after my races, especially before when I get to the starting line I make sure that my legs aren’t tight, so that I can get a good start,” Altabet said.

Important parts to stretch are the hamstrings, calves, arms, quads, ankles, feet, hips, shoulders and neck. Athletes use almost every part of their bodies to move efficiently. Some athletes are unknown to the importance of stretching and how it can help them.

“I don’t need to stretch, stretching is just an extra waste of time and I’m never going to get injured,” sophomore basketball player Hannah Baker said.

Not only does stretching prevent injuries, it improves one’s overall state of being, one doesn’t have to be an athlete to understand the importance of stretching. It enhances one’s flexibility, circulation, posture, coordination and can even reduce stress. Altabet notices improvement when she stretches before and after practice, while Baker, who only stretches around three times a week has a differing opinion.

“When I don’t stretch I feel the same as when I do stretch,” Baker said.

Altabet disagrees and stretches and warms up anytime she can get the chance.

“When I’m on the line and they say ‘runners to your mark’, I take that time to do a couple jumps and shake my legs out,”Altabet said.

Aerobic exercises like jogging, jumping jacks or jump rope warm up thermo-elastic muscles and increase one’s heart rate before an activity. These should take five to 10 minutes and athletes should then take a five minute break before their activity.

“The most important thing about stretching is that it really gets your muscles ready for the amount of extreme effort you’re about to put in,”Altabet said.

Stretching after an activity can reduce muscle fatigue from the build up of lactic acid, or the acid that causes soreness and ‘the burn’ during workouts.

“I also stretch after running because our legs just went through a lot,” Altabet said.

In the end, stretching could help one’s physical health and ability, athlete or not. While some like Baker still don’t believe in it’s powers, research can inform them of the benefits.

“I would say it’s definitely one of the most important things you can do to get better because you [reduce the] risk of getting an injury,” Altabet said.

 

 

 

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Athletes stretch for the long run