The Importance of Stretching
We all know that stretching and flexibility is an important aspect of exercise. Stretching improves the available range of motion through your joints, allowing them to work more optimally. It also improves blood flow to your muscles, which helps to heal the tissues. Incorporating stretches into a workout and increasing flexibility helps to improve performance and prevent injuries.
But how many of us know that flexibility is just as important to our everyday life?
Unfortunately, stretching and flexibility often are left out of our daily routine. Admittedly, it is hard enough to find time for a cardio or strength workout in our busy lives. But stretching is something that should be fit into our schedule.
Flexibility is needed to perform activities of daily living such as getting in and out of bed, entering and exiting the car, performing household chores and lifting up a child. Flexibility often decreases with age or the less we become active. As flexibility decreases, over time we compensate through poor movement patters and bad posture. These compromises can lead to injuries. Staying active and participating in a daily stretching routine can help prevent overall loss of mobility and decrease the risk of injury.
Before you start a stretching routine, make sure you do it safely. Here are some tips to get started:
- Proper form is key! You may do more harm than good if you are performing stretches with poor technique.
- Stretching is not a warm up! You can cause injury when stretching cold muscles. It is a good idea to perform a 10 minutes warm up (walking, biking) prior to stretching. Stretching should then be performed again at the end of your exercise routine when your muscles are warm.
- It is important to hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds and up to 60 seconds. Continue to breathe through the stretch.
- Repeat each stretch 3-4 times per session.
- A stretch is a hold, not a bounce! Bouncing may cause injury to the muscles.
- Stretching should not be painful. You should feel tension through the muscle you are stretching but no pain.
Here are some stretches to get you started. These stretches target your lower extremity major muscle groups. They are designed to improve flexibility; therefore, overall mobility!
If you feel you can benefit from a personalized home exercise/stretching program, please contact AZOPT for an evaluation.
- Mayo Clinic, Stretching essentials. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/fitness/in-depth/stretching/art-20047931?pg=2. Accessed November 28, 2014
- Human Kinetics, The importance and purpose of flexibility. Available at: http://www.humankinetics.com/excerpts/excerpts/the-importance-and-purpose-of-flexibility. Accessed November 28, 2014
- HEP2Go. Available at: http://www.hep2go.com. Accessed November 28, 2014.