Stretching should be an important component of every individual’s exercise or overall wellness regimen. But why is it so important? Some of the benefits of stretching include improved flexibility, improved range of motion, improved posture, improved coordination, and improved blood flow.1,2 Inflexible muscles place uneven stresses on the joints which can alter joint mechanics, increasing the risk of injury. Therefore, stretching can help to decrease the risk of injury and improve physical performance.1,2 As we age, our muscles become even more inflexible and taut making stretching ever more important.
So what do you need to remember about incorporating stretching into your wellness regimen? First, stretching is important post exercise or post activity but you should incorporate a cardio warm-up for pre-activity.1,2 The reason an individual should not stretch pre-activity is because stretching a muscle that is not warmed up can increase the risk of tearing or injuring it.1-2 Therefore, one should warm-up with light cardio activities prior to activity and perform their stretching post activity.1 Secondly, when stretching, remember not to bounce into a stretch.1-2 Bouncing increases the risk of tearing the muscle. Instead, hold a slow, prolonged stretch. Third, remember to relax and breathe during the stretching. Holding one’s breath during stretches can increase blood pressure unnecessarily as well as increase tautness of the muscles. The dosage of stretching is important to consider as well. Short stretches do not give the muscles enough time to relax and improve flexibility, therefore, long prolonged stretches are best. Recommendations for stretches include performing stretches 3 sets of 30 second hold stretches several times a week.2
Contact your local ApexNetwork Physical Therapy with any further questions.
- Stretching: Focus on Flexibility. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/stretching/art-20047931. Published February 21, 2017. Accessed March 26, 2019.
- Page P. Current Concepts in Muscle Stretching for Exercise and Rehabilitation. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy. 2012; 7(1): 109-119. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3273886/ Accessed March 26, 2019.