Anyone who has been to our clinic knows how much we emphasize proper stretching, especially after an injury. Stretching is essential and should be performed not only by joggers or athletes but by everyone. Why is stretching important? Let’s explore.
Stretching keeps the muscles and the body flexible, and muscles strong and healthy. Being flexible is important as it helps maintain our range of motion across our joints. Without stretching, the muscles become shortened and tighter. This makes the muscles less flexible and the joints stiffer, which could lead to a pulled muscle or a joint injury.
Most of the injuries we see at the clinic are due to the lack of flexibility. For example, driving to work everyday can cause the back and leg muscles to tighten up. This can make it difficult to fully straighten the leg, which in turn can cause a pulled hamstring muscle. Regular stretching will help keep the muscles limber, which in turn can reduce injury.
Stretching helps reduce the presence of adhesion between the muscle layers. This video below is an excellent visual showing the benefits of stretching:
Regular stretching can keep muscles long, lean and flexible. Healthy muscles also help a person with balance problems to avoid falls, which is an increased risk of injury in the elderly population.
Mounting research has shown that stretching the muscles before they’re warmed up can can cause injury. When everything is cold, the muscle fibers aren’t prepared and may be damaged. If you exercise first, you’ll get blood flow to the area, and that makes the tissue more pliable and amenable to change. All it takes to warm up the muscles before stretching is 5 to 10 minutes of light activity, such as a quick walk. You can also stretch after an aerobic or weight-training workout.
Hold a stretch for 30 seconds. Don’t bounce, which can cause injury. You’ll feel tension during a stretch, but you should not feel pain. If you do, there may be an injury or damage in the tissue. Stop stretching that muscle and talk to your doctor.