One of the best ways to prevent pain or limited range of motion is very simple. Stretch yourself! Muscles have four attributes that make a muscle a muscle: Contractility, the ability to shorten, or contract; elasticity, the ability to return to its normal state; irritability, the ability for the nervous system to tell it to do something; and extensibility, the ability to stretch. When you lose flexibility, you lose a very important aspect of that muscle.
LiveStrong says “Stretching is the unsung hero of exercise that keeps your muscles flexible, free from injury and feeling young.” They go on to say how massage and stretching are the best combination for workouts and muscle health for athletes. We have written two articles on how we love helping athletes, talking about Sports Massage and Meeting Your Fitness Goals.
The American Council on Exercise, or ACE, outlined their top 10 reasons to stretch. We agree with each of these reasons, but I wanted to outline a few of them:
- Helps to increase range of motion, which may also slow degeneration of joints.
- May reduce injury. Flexible muscles are less likely to experience an injury because you are working on one the the four attributes of muscles. Also, because it increases range of motion, your muscles have to extend farther to possibly injure itself.
- Improves posture. Because our society has us have a more rounded shoulder, forward head posture, stretching is the best thing you can do most consistently to help with your posture. We wrote an article that can give you more tips on improving your posture.
- Helps reduce stress. Well stretched muscles hold less tension and therefore, leave you feeling less stressed.
- Decreases pain. Flexibility in the hamstrings, hip flexors and muscles attached to the pelvis relieves stress on the lumbar spine which in turn reduces the risk of low-back pain.
Stretching isn’t just for athletes and gym rats. Whether you have a physically demanding job like construction or you sit at a computer all day, stretching is one of the most important things you can do for your body, especially between massages. Stretching will help repetitive motion injuries or soreness just as much as it will help someone who just bench pressed 300 pounds.
While stretching is extremely important, as we’ve outlined, stretching correctly is just as important. While we are not yoga instructors at Under Pressure Therapeutics, we do train people how to stretch for their problem areas. Many of the stretches that we teach are yoga poses or modified yoga poses. It’s important to stretch all of the fibers of your muscles. If you have questions, contact your massage therapist.
If you haven’t thought about adding Yoga to your health regimen, please give it a thought. If you think that you can’t do yoga, think again. Yoga is not about contorting your body into these impossible positions. It’s about getting a stretch. It’s about bettering yourself. It’s about moving into a healthier you.