"I haven't had a chance this week..." “I've been too busy...” “I forgot how to do that one...” “I did it once or twice...”
Stretching – Why I should make time
The list of excuses why we don’t stretch could go on and on. We all manage to find ten minutes a day to watch TV, talk on the phone, read a book, daydream or procrastinate from doing work, so why can’t we find ten minutes for stretching? It’s simple, painless and effective, yet many of us struggle to do any whatsoever.
We should probably start with the reasons why you should stretch.
Stretching is fantastic for relaxing the body and improving/maintaining your flexibility. By lengthening the muscles there is less stress on the associated joints of the body which allows for greater range of motion and a smoother quality of motion. This is especially important in dynamic activities such as sport; however this flexibility also allows our body to better cope with postural strain such as that experienced with lifting, bending and sitting. This could also aid in injury prevention, as evidence suggests that a pre-stretched muscle copes better with the stress of contraction better than a non-stretched muscle.
Other benefits of stretching include:
- Increasing circulation
- Preventing post exercise muscle soreness
- Developing body awareness
How do I stretch correctly?
The basic rule of stretching is that if it hurts, you’ve gone too far. Our muscles are protected by a mechanism called the “Stretch Reflex.” If our muscles are stretched too far, the nerves respond by signalling the muscle to contract, which helps prevent injury. As a result, if you stretch too far or “bounce” up and down on the stretch, you actually tighten the muscle you are trying to stretch, which can cause pain and tissue damage.
In order to improve overall muscle length, stretches should be held for at least 20 seconds and repeated approximately five times. The first stretch helps reduce muscle tightness, any further repetitions helps increase muscular flexibility. The stretch should be taken to the point of mild tension and then held. As you continue to hold, breath normally, the tension should begin to subside as you hold that position. If you are comfortable, try to push the next repetition a little further, although be guided by muscular tension.
Tailored Stretching Program
The Osteopaths of Heidelberg and Blackburn have acquired some new Stretching Software which allows us to tailor a stretching program to your needs and print out an easy guide for you. If you would like to know more or are after stretching advice specific to your needs, please don’t hesitate to speak to your Osteopath at your next appointment.