Why Stretching Matters
Some may feel that stretching before exercising or physical activity, or after, is a waste of time; it seems tedious, time-consuming, and seemingly, pointless. It may be tempting to skip that step, especially if you are pressed for time—but not so fast—you may want to reconsider.
“Stretching keeps muscles mobile and healthy and helps increase your range of motion, which is especially important as we age and tend to live a more sedentary lifestyle,” explains Katelyn Berens, licensed athletic trainer, Ridgeview Rehab. Berens offers five reasons why you should make stretching a priority and consider working it into your daily routine.
Five reasons to stretch daily
- Prevent injury. Stretching increases blood flow to muscles, warms them up and helps prevent tears and muscle strain. Stretching before and after activities—like yard work and gardening—can help prevent injury and soreness the next day.
- Improve your posture. Berens explains that sitting at a desk for long hours or hunching over a phone creates tight muscles in our chest and shoulders. Stretching those muscle groups helps elongate them, creating better posture.
- Increase flexibility and range of motion. As you age, your muscles tend to get tighter, decreasing flexibility and range of motion, which can create barriers for everyday tasks like reaching for something on a shelf. “Regular stretching helps keep your muscles mobile to perform activities of daily living,” Berens said.
- Reduce stress. Stretching not only reduces stress by relieving muscle tension, but also by releasing positive endorphins. Depending on the muscles being stretched, different types of endorphins are released—some provide energy and others help you to relax. Both help reduce stress.
- Prevent and reduce back pain. Our bodies were not intended to sit for much of the day, which causes tight hamstrings and hip flexors. These tight muscles cause strain on the lower back. Stretching those muscle groups can help reduce and prevent lower back pain.
Get the most impact out of a few minutes of stretching
Berens suggests starting with small, realistic steps, such as incorporating these three simple stretches into your day—hamstring stretch, hip flexor stretch and chest stretch. She recommends holding each stretch for at least 30 seconds and repeating two to three times. Berens cautions against bouncing as you stretch, which can extend the muscle too far and too fast, resulting in muscle strain.
Make this small commitment to yourself to increase your overall mobility and help you stay active as you age and improve your ability to do everyday tasks. The best part—stretching can be done anywhere, at any time and requires no equipment. When additional treatment is necessary for muscle injury or tension, Ridgeview Rehab has options for relief including Theragun® therapy, dry needling and the Graston Technique®.
Ridgeview’s Rehab team focuses to preserve, restore and enhance your active and healthy lifestyle. Our specialists provide comprehensive treatment and ongoing care for pediatric concerns, orthopedics, neurology, cancer, sport- and work-related injuries, and chronic disease, as well as fitness and performance programming.
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