Who Needs To Stretch Anyways?
Staying active is important, as we all know. We count our steps, we eat right, try to get proper sleep, drink a certain amount of water to keep hydrated. However, it is also essential to stretch every day! Stretching should become an essential part of everyone’s daily routine.
Why Is Stretching Important?
Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy. We need flexibility to work on and maintain our range of motion in our joints. Without proper range of motion, our muscles can become stiff; this is a result of shortening of the muscles and tendons leading to tightness as well. When you need those muscles for activities, then those muscles may not be able to extend the full range of motion. This may weaken your muscles and put you at more risk of injuries, sprains, and strains. In addition, shortened muscles may not be able to support the joints it surrounds, possibly leading to joint injuries.
What Are Some Important Things To Keep In Mind?
-It’s better to stretch when your muscles are warm. Yes, I know this may sound counter intuitive from everything we know! However, it is better to stretch when your muscle are slightly warmed up. Therefore, try to walk for a few minutes before stopping to stretch out.
-Don’t bounce – hold your stretch for a few seconds. This allows thorough elongation of the tendons while bouncing may actually lead to injury.
-Make sure to stretch all the major muscle groups. Start with the larger muscle groups and work your way down to the ankles and feet. Remember to stretch both left and right sides equally as symmetry is important.
-Don’t aim for pain! If there is pain, then you have gone too far and you should back off of the stretch. In fact, stretching should feel good by alleviating pain and soreness, not cause it.
-Make stretches sports specific. For example, if you are doing lots of jumps as a basketball player, it is important to stretch those calves as you will be extending the calf muscles that lead to the Achilles tendon. Similarly, as a runner, hamstrings and gluteus muscles are extremely important.
-It improves your posture! Stretching allows the tendons and muscles to be elongated, thus allowing your posture to adjust. When you have better posture, this also alleviates neck or shoulder or back pain.
-It is a stress reliever! When you stretch, you allow the tendons and muscles that have shortened or tightened up to loosen again. Tight muscles are harbors areas of stress; when they are stretched, then there is less tension in these areas leading to less stress. This also calms your mind. When you are stretching, be mindful and relax, even if it is only for a few minutes. So take a few minutes in the middle of the day and make yourself stretch to feel stress relief.
Why Do I Need To Stretch? How Is It Going To Benefit Me?
The top reasons why you need to stretch are simple. It prepares your body for the stress of exercise. When you are exercising, you want your muscles to be warmed up and ready to handle the activity ahead of you. Stretching allows your body to be ready to go and helps withstand the impact of the activity you choose to participate in.
In addition, it increases blood flow to the area when your muscles are prepared for the activity, and in this way decreases your possibility of injury. It also increases your range of motion so that when you participate in the activity, it puts less stress on your joints and causes less degeneration of the joints. As there is an increase in blood flow to the muscles, this promotes circulation to the area, thus causing your muscles to perform more efficiently.
It also decreases muscle stiffness post work out, and we know how painful that can be after a workout! This decreased muscle soreness, and in fact when we are trying to recover from that game or workout the next day, the soreness can be relieved by simple stretches.
Stretching can help improve flexibility, and, consequently, range of motion about your joints. Better flexibility may:
- Improve your performance in physical activities
- Decrease your risk of injuries
- Help your joints move through their full range of motion
- Enable your muscles to work most effectively
Check out our website to see how Dr. Doyle has given examples of various stretching techniques. All of these stretches can be tweaked to your ability.
The most important thing to remember is to stretch every day, make a part of your daily routine!