Stretching – What you need to know!
What’s happening everyone? I’ll tell you what – we are finally into warmer springtime weather and you know what that means? We can finally emerge from hibernation to take more of our activities outdoors! And I want to make sure that you stay in top form all (spring and summer) season long injury-free! On that note, today we are going to talk stretching. I’m going to break it down for you, so pay attention.
There are two types of stretches:
1. Dynamic & 2. Static
Dynamic stretching is best performed as a warm up. Don’t have a warm up routine? Well you do now friend. Dynamic is the type of stretching done with repetitive movement. For example, this includes arm circles, high knee marching, leg swings, and torso/hip rolls. Going through these simple movements before you hit the trails for a hike, or head out for a run along the lake increases blood-flow. This will allow your muscles and joints to warm up properly and prepare them for activity. The use of dynamic stretching will help to reduce risk of injury. So keep these moves in mind and use prior to activity. Get your body warmed up before you place increased physical demands on it! You will perform better, and lower your injury risk. It’s a no brainer.
Static stretching is best performed following activity while your muscles are still warm. This is the type of stretching where you fully lengthen a muscle, and hold it in place without moving. For example, the quadriceps stretch is a popular one…it is when you pull your heel to your bum to feel a stretch into the front of the thigh. Hold it for 10 seconds, and switch sides; repeating 3x with each leg. You will feel a gentle (slightly uncomfortable) pulling sensation through the muscle. Please note - it should never be painful. If it hurts, back off from the stretch a little bit, and breathe into it. This is another thing I say to literally every patient I see. BREATHE. The instant you hold your breath, you increase pressure within your body and likely create tension into other muscles and joints. Stretching one muscle should not cause strain to another. I often advise patients to also perform static stretching after a hot shower/sauna/hot tub before you are ready to rest. Do not perform these stretches prior to activity as it has been shown to decrease your strength and performance output. Think of static stretching as your cool down, and a love note to your body for allowing you to be active! It will also leave you with less DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) the following day(s). Which means walking upstairs after leg day will be less deadly. You’re welcome ;)
Doing your stretches in proper order (pre vs. post exercise) may help you to reach your strength and endurance goals that you have been struggling with. For our younger readers, I urge you to step into these healthy habits before your body reminds you of your age and life shows you how easy it can be to pull a muscle or sprain a joint. For those of you who are older, all is not lost! Regain your flexibility by incorporating stretching into your daily routine. This will make you feel less stiffness and tension throughout your body…well that’s true for everyone, but the point is I don’t want you to think that you’re older now and your body is incapable of activity. Bring flexibility back, and you will bring the ease of movement back. Now go get after that #HIHmoment !
Sending love & light as always HIH fam!
Sincerely your chiropractor,