We all know we should be stretching, but how many of us are doing it correctly and daily? What is it that we are doing when we are stretching except for causing ourselves discomfort in peculiar positions?
Stretching is the motion of lengthening the muscle by moving one of the muscle ends away from the other. The stretch can be felt along any part of the muscle and the degree to which the stretch is felt depends on the person’s level of flexibility of the area. The aim of stretching is to increase and restore the resting length of the muscle. Stretching can help with muscular pain, tightness and flexibility. If you are unsure about any of the stretches you are doing, just ask us!
There are 3 main types of stretching that we recommend for our clients; static, dynamic and PNF stretching.
- Static stretching is most commonly used for general muscular well being. Static stretching means a stretch is held in a
challenging but comfortable position for a period of time, usually 30 seconds. It is considered safe and effective for improving overall flexibility.
- Dynamic stretching is active stretching with movement. Dynamic stretching is ideal before a workout as it will stretch and warm up the muscles at the same time. It’s important that this isn’t confused with bouncing stretching, we do not recommend any bouncing once in a stretch as it can cause injury to the tissue.
- Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) is a more advanced form of stretching to increase the muscles flexibility. It involves both a stretch and a contraction of the muscle group being targeted.
The most common thing that we hear from our clients who are in pain is that they didn’t have time to stretch. We understand that life is busy, however we see it far too often clients not getting the relief that they could be if they spent a few minutes a day doing some gentle stretches. We recommend trying to incorporate stretching to your other activities. Whether it’s at your desk, in the shower, while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil or sitting on the toilet… all it takes is a few minutes to help those aches and pains.
A great thing to pair with stretching is a heat pack. Placing the heat pack across your shoulders will boost circulation to the area and encourage the tissue to relax. This is a great trick to do at work. It will also make you more aware of your posture and help keep away those aches and pains associated with sitting at a desk 8 hours a day.
At Body Align Myotherapy & Massage our Myotherapist’s and massage therapists have studied corrective exercises, so if you have any questions about old stretches you’re doing or new stretches you’d like to try, please don’t hesitate to ask.