Benefits of Stretching

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Benefits of Stretching

I don't know about you, but I am sitting more than normal.  I'm so used to be out and about and running around all of the time but with COVID that has changed.   

With all the sitting I think I need to take more stretching breaks for my body. 

According to Chad Tackett, president of Global Health and Fitness, “Flexibility prevents injury, increases your range of motion, promotes relaxation, improves performance and posture, reduces stress and keeps your body feeling loose and agile.”

Maintaining flexibility is more important than ever as people age, says exercise physiologist Jason R. Karp in Fitness Management Magazine. “It can improve the quality of life by allowing people to perform what once were simple daily tasks, such as tying their shoes or reaching to the top shelf of a cabinet. Other benefits of flexibility include a reduced risk of injury to muscles and joints, increased body awareness and balance, better posture, improved coordination and enhanced performance of skilled movements.”

The current research suggests that stretching can decrease pain and soreness after exercise. However, no evidence supports the theory that stretching immediately before exercise can prevent overuse or acute injuries. These studies found that warming up by itself has no effect on range of motion, but that when the warm-up is followed by stretching there is an increase in range of motion. Many people misinterpreted this finding to mean that stretching before exercise prevents injuries, even though the clinical research suggests otherwise. A better interpretation is that warm-up prevents injury, whereas stretching has no effect on injury. If injury prevention is your primary objective the evidence suggests that athletes should limit the stretching before exercise and increase warm-up.

It's important not to confuse stretching with warming up. Warming up consists of moderate aerobic activity, such as walking, to get the muscles warm, because a warm muscle stretches more easily than a cold one. After five or so minutes of warm-up, you can begin stretching.

Guidelines for Stretching

Most important: don’t bounce. Use “static” stretching. Static stretching involves a slow, gradual and controlled elongation of the muscle through the full range of motion and held for 15-30 seconds in the farthest comfortable position (without pain). No pain, no gain should not be your guideline here. As you stretch your muscles, you should feel pulling, but no pain. As you hold the stretch, your muscle will relax. As you repeat the stretch, you should have more range of motion. As you feel less tension you can increase the stretch again until they feel the same slight pull. Hold this position until you feel no further increase.

Here are a Few Stretching exercises

Hamstring Stretch

Sit on the ground with both legs straight out in front of you

Bend the left leg and place the sole of the left foot alongside the knee of the right leg

Allow the left leg to lie relaxed on the ground

Bend forward keeping the back straight

Repeat with the other leg

 

Chest Stretch (this one is really important if you are sitting hunched over a computer a lot)

Stand tall, feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent

Hold you arms out to the side parallel with the ground and the palms of the hand facing forward

Stretch the arms back as far as possible

 

Biceps Stretch

Stand tall, feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent

- Hold your arms out to the side parallel with the ground and palms facing forward

Rotate the hands so the palms face to the rear

Stretch the arms back as far as possible

 

Seated Clasped Neck Stretch

- Sit comfortably on the floor or in a chair, making sure your body is in proper alignment (your head should be stacked above your ribs and your ribs above your pelvis).

- Clasp your hands and bring both palms to the back of your head.

- Gently press your hands down toward your thighs, tucking your chin into your chest.

- Hold for at least 30 seconds, or 5-8 deep, diaphragmatic breaths in and out.

 

Happy stretching!