Many have learned about the benefits of stretching during childhood. Playing little league is often the first introduction we have to the concept of stretching- however, many forget to implement this practice throughout their lives.
If you are one of the few who have maintained a lifestyle that consistently incorporates stretching, first off, good for you! However, it’s helpful to have a check-in to make sure that you are stretching in the best way possible in order to maintain or improve your range of motion, as well as to ensure your body moves and feels as optimally as possible. Implementing light stretching into your wellness routine 2-3 times per week will help you to maintain mobility, independence and reduce muscle strain and joint pain.
There are different kinds of stretching. Most notably dynamic and static stretching. Dynamic stretching is stretching that is done whilst moving, often before a workout, participation in a sporting event or other similar physical activity. Dynamic stretching is stretching that often mimics the movements that would be performed in the activity that the individual is about to undertake. It starts with low-intensity movements and gets increasingly more active until the participant is “warmed-up” and ready to participate in their sport or other physical exercise. Unlike dynamic stretching, static stretching is stretching that is done while stationary, and it is best done after muscles are warmed up (i.e. after your workout or physical activity). It involves holding a movement for between 15-60 seconds (for the older population, the longer the hold, the more beneficial to your joints and muscles), releasing and then repeating the movement again, up to four times. Incorporating static stretching into your weekly health routine will decrease muscle soreness and stiffness, as well as increase blood flow and circulation, improving quality of life and longevity.
While stretching, it is important to remember not to “bounce.” Static stretching involves holding the muscle in a stretch at its farthest point without causing discomfort, and then breathing deeply in the hold before gently releasing it. "Bouncing" while stretching increases the risk of muscle strain or tightness and offers no benefits. Focus on stretching large muscles groups, such as your back, thighs, shoulders, calves, etc. The goal is not to match the flexibility of a gymnast, but to gently encourage your body to lengthen while achieving symmetrical flexibility on both sides of your body. By completing slow, relaxed static stretching post-workout, you will reduce muscle fatigue and soreness. Additionally, static stretching will allow you to recover more quickly following an injury. As our bodies age, our tendons get thicker and become less elastic. Stretching can help counteract this and increase range of motion and prevent injury.
Did you know? Physical therapy is for everyone! From post-surgery recovery, to daily practices to improve your overall health and wellness, we have the knowledge and expertise to work with you one-on-one to develop a program that works for you!
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