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  • Nicole Charron RMT

Benefits of Stretching

Stretching doesn't only belong to the runners, gymnasts, or athletes. It is important to stretch our muscles in order to protect or mobility and independence of our everyday living.

Why stretching is important

Stretching keeps muscles flexible, strong, and healthy. We all need flexibility to maintain the health and range of motion in our joints. When we lack in stretching, our range of motion becomes limited and our muscles become tight and shortened. When the muscles are in a shortened state and are called on for an activity, they are weaker and may be unable to extend all the way. Risks increase for joint pains, strains and the chances of muscle damage becomes high. Regular stretching keeps muscles long, lean and flexible, this meaning the exertion has less risk of damage to the muscle, or joint.

The most common factor in getting tight muscles is improper posture and prolong sitting. Prolonged sitting results in low back discomfort, tight hip flexors and tight hamstrings, going down the back of the thigh. This makes it hard to extend your leg all the way, creating discomfort and inhibiting your walking ability. Tight muscles that are suddenly called on for a strenuous activity that stretch them, may become damaged from sudden movements of being stretched. Injured muscles may not be strong enough to support the joints, which can lead to an injury.

Where do I start?

Daily stretching can seem overwhelming. Start with focusing on critical areas of the body for mobility. In the upper extremities; focus should be on your shoulders, neck, and in the lower extremities, focus on the calves, hamstrings, hip flexors and quadriceps in front of the thigh. It has taken you weeks, months or even years to obtain these tight muscles, you are not going to have perfect flexibility after 1-2 sessions.

Finding a good Physical Therapist or Personal Trainer, can help you asses your muscle strength and tailor a stretching program designed that fits your needs. Chronic conditions such as Parkinson's disease or arthritis, should be cleared by your doctor before starting a new stretching regimen.

When to stretch?

Old belief's were that stretching was necessary in order to warm up the muscle and prepare them for an activity. However mounting research has shown that stretching a muscle before being warmed up can cause more damage. When muscles are cold, fibes aren't prepared to be stretched and may become damaged. It is important to remember to do 5-10 minutes of light activity first, to get blood flow to the muscles, thus making the muscle tissue more pliable and amenable to a stretch.

Holding a static stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds, allows the muscles to relax and become prepared to work. It is important to feel tension during a stretch but you shouldn't feel pain. If pain occurs there may be an injury or damage to tissue, stop the stretching of that muscle and talk to your doctor.

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2 commentaires

04 janv. 2022

This is a great article! So if your daily routine involves sitting at a computer, when is the best time to do daily stretches?

Nicole Charron RMT
04 janv. 2022
En réponse à

There is no specific "best time" for doing stretches. The important thing is to warm up the muscles by moving around first, get the blood flowing to them before stretching. Remember it is important to take regular stretch breaks throughout the day, especially after prolong periods of being inactive, or sitting at the computer all day.

We can talk more about it at your next session. 🙂

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