The Importance of Stretching & Joint Mobility
Do you like to stretch when you exercise?
Stretching is the deliberate alignment of the muscles so called “lengthening”, in order to increase muscle flexibility and joint range of motion. Stretching exercises are one the most important important part of any exercise or rehabilitation program. They help warm the body up prior to activity thus decreasing the risk of injury as well as muscle soreness. The benefits of stretching are endless and have been proven through various studies over a long period of time. Stretching benefits people of all ages, and is intended for the young as well as the elderly population.
The most commonly known benefits of stretching include:
Increased flexibility and joint range of motion: Flexible muscles can improve your daily performance. Flexibility tends to diminish as you get older, but you can regain and maintain it.
Improved circulation: Stretching increases blood flow to your muscles. Blood flowing to your muscles brings nourishment and gets rid of waste byproducts in the muscle tissue. Improved circulation can help shorten your recovery time if you've had any muscle injuries.
Stress relief: Stretching relaxes tight, tense muscles that often accompany stress.
Enhanced coordination: Maintaining the full range-of-motion through your joints keeps you in better balance. Coordination and balance will help keep you mobile and less prone to injury from falls, especially as you get older.
It is essential to practice proper stretching techniques. Doing so will allow you to avoid any unnecessary injury. Always warm up the areas you will be stretching. Hold the stretching positions for a set time, depending on the goal and the body condition. Don't bounce: Bouncing as you stretch can cause small tears (microtears) in the muscle, which leave scar tissue as the muscle heals. Relax and breathe freely: Don't hold your breath while you're stretching. Deliberate concentration on the breathing allows the muscles to relax the tension which appears due to danger impulses your brain receives during stretching, that makes your muscles to tense up and resist the stretches. Stretch both sides: Make sure your joint range of motion is as equal as possible on each side of your body. Stretch before and after activity: Light stretching after your warm-up followed by a more thorough stretching regimen after your workout is your best bet.
Just like we do at all our training classes!
Who Should Avoid Stretching?
Although the benefits of stretching are many, is not for everyone. Conditions in which stretching should be avoided include:
Acute Muscle Strains: People who have suffered an acute muscle strain should avoid placing further stress on the muscle through stretching activities. The injured muscle should be given time to rest. Stretching muscle fibers in the acute period can result in further injury.
Fractured Bones: After breaking a bone, the fractured side needs time to heal. Stretching muscles that surround this injured area can place stress on the bone and prevent it from healing as well as further displace the break. Stretching a joint that surrounds a broken bone should never be done until cleared by your physician.
Joint Sprains: When you sprain your joint, you overstretch the ligaments that help stabilize the bones that form the joint. For this reason stretching early after a joint sprain should be avoided. As with fractures, these structures need time to heal and stretching too early in the injury will delay this process.
Stretching regularly can help your body and joints move more freely, allowing you to enjoy full functional mobility.
What’s your favourite stretch and what do you like least?:)