The Benefits of Stretching
We always hear our trainers, fitness instructors, and even doctors reminding us to stretch. Sometimes we add a few, quick stretches before or after a workout or a game, but it may not be enough to experience benefits. Even though we know that we are “supposed” to stretch, you may find yourself wondering why it is important, how much stretching you should do, and how often.
For optimum orthopedic health and athletic performance, stretching is key. Here are some of our reasons why you should stretch, as well as tips and pointers regarding how much and how often you should stretch your muscles to see maximum benefits.
Why Stretch?There is nothing controversial about stretching. Just about any athletic trainer, fitness professional, or medical professional will tell you that stretching is critical to increasing flexibility, circulation, and eliminating pain before or after physical activity.
Think about those times when you have been sitting forever, watching TV or stuck on an airplane. Because stretching is a natural, instinctive behavior, we sometimes feel the urge to stretch after we’ve been in one position for a while. Our first inclination when we rise in the morning? Stretching! Stretching “wakes up” your muscles, boosts circulation, and just feels good, usually. It’s also been shown to lower stress levels – think about how a great session of yoga makes you feel.
When you’re involved in a sport or physical activity, the same rule applies. Going from a daily routine to playing a round of golf, running, or lifting weights is a sudden change in activity level. It’s important to stretch to increase your flexibility to avoid injury, as well. People who haven’t stretched more frequently injure themselves, as their muscles are tighter and shorter.
Increased stretching over time will allow you to move and flex more easily. If you stretch adequately each time you play tennis, hit the gym, or go on a walk, your muscles will become longer, less susceptible to injury and strain.
Stretching TipsIt should be noted that stretching is not only for sports and physical activity. Because stretching benefits your overall stress levels and orthopedic health, consistent and gentle stretching is seen as something that can be easily worked into your daily routine. Try some relaxing stretches in the morning or evening before bed.
It’s best to stretch before and after physical activity. Before you engage in sports or activities, your muscles need to be slowly stretched to reduce tightness and resistance. “Slowly” is the operative word here, as stretching a “cold” muscle too quickly could also result in injury. Take several minutes to build up your flexibility, flexing a bit deeper each time. These stretches should not be painful or forced. Following physical activity, stretch to relieve tension, tightness, and to help your entire body relax.
It’s also good to know when to stop stretching, or when you may have injured yourself. If you are experiencing tightness or pain while you stretch (or because you forgot to stretch), the Orthopaedic Specialists of Connecticut team serves all of Brookfield and the surrounding areas. Our professional team can help you find relief and solutions to reduce injury and pain moving forward. Call us today and schedule an appointment: 203-775-6205, or visit our website for more information about our practice: www.ctorthopaedic.com.