Stretching & Prevention
By now you have probably heard that you need to stretch more and how important it is to make stretching a part of your daily routine. Regardless of our daily activity level, stretching helps to increase our range of motion and flexibility. More important than that, regular stretching helps to reduce the risk of injury.
Benefits of Stretching
- Increased flexibility and joint range of motion: By allowing the joints and be moved through their whole range, it helps to ensure that you don’t stiffen up over time. Think of this as a use it or loose it idea.
- Injury Prevention: Decreased muscle resistance allowing for freer movement overall and therefore less restriction when it comes to sudden, unexpected movements.
- Improved circulation: This is true discussing dynamic stretching, allowing blood flow to the muscles helping to eliminate any waste by-product that might be hanging around, It stimulates all the little receptors in the joints too if you have been sedentary for a while.
- Better posture: By allowing yourself to loosen the tighter muscles, you can stand up straighter and decrease general discomfort.
- Decreasing pain: Gentle stretches, if done properly and regularly can help to decrease tension and pain.
Types of Stretching
- Static – When people think of stretching, this is usually what comes to mind. This is when you pull the muscle to the end range and hold the position. This type of stretch is best to be done after exercise as part of your cool down, or even better on its on taken as a yoga class.
- Dynamic – Most often considered as the warm up to activity. Dynamic stretching is essentially moving the body through similar range of motion as you would be doing when exercises. I like to describe these as the “Grade 8 gym class stretches”. You remember when we all had to stand around in a circle while we performed hip circles, shoulder circles, neck rotations and the like. These movements are actually important as it helps to get the blood flowing to the areas that you would be using during exercise.
One of my Favourite Stretches (See Image for Reference*)
- Begin on your knees with one leg out in front, here I started with the left leg. Be sure the knee is over the ankle in this leg. Both hips should be facing forward. ⠀
- Slowly allow the body to relax and allow your hips to sink toward the ground and the front leg. Be sure the front knee is still above the ankle. ⠀
- You should be feeling a stretch through the front part of the hip of the back leg at this point, in the case it would be the right hip. To deepen the stretch, take the arm from the same side as the back leg(right in this picture) and lift it over your head. Your hips should still be facing forward with no rotation through the hips and low back. ⠀
- To go on step deeper, gently tilt towards the opposite side, in this case I tilted towards the left. There should be no pinching within the low back as you're performing this stretch. ⠀
- Hold for at least 30 seconds. The longer you hold the stretch, the deeper it be. ⠀
- Repeat on the opposite side. ⠀
Modification: If doing this stretch from your knee causes pain,
you can do it just as well standing up.
Looking forward to working with you!!
Dr. Heather Ciasnocha DC