The Importance of Stretching!
It’s cold out… you don’t want to go to the gym…. you really don’t want to waste time stretching….
Believe me, I get it. I am definitely one of those people that needs to give their self a little pep talk in the winter to stay with my workout plan and stretching.
It is important to properly warm-up and stretch before exercising or participating in some of those enjoyable snow activities like snowball fights and skiing/snowboard and the not so enjoyable ones like shoveling.
Stretching has been shown to have many benefits:
Decrease Risk of Injury – stretching before participating in something physical prepares your muscles to function at their optimal performance. They are now ready to adapt to the changes that your muscles go through when being physically active.
Improve Flexibility and Range of Motion – I hear daily that “I used to be able to touch my toes as a kid.” Well the reason you can’t anymore is because you didn’t keep up with stretching as your bones grew and muscles lengthened. Don’t worry; you can still improve your flexibility if you work at it.
Reduce pain and stiffness – In many cases a lot of patients low back pain and knee pain is due to their muscles being very tight which causes the joints to not move properly and therefore put abnormal stresses on joints and cause pain.
Improve blood flow and circulation – Stretching helps to improve blood flow and circulation by allowing for enhanced transportation of oxygen and nutrient-rich blood throughout the body.
Minimize wear and tear on joints – Again, if muscles are at the appropriate length and tensions then they don’t cause abnormal stress on joints which can lead to premature joint breakdown and arthritis.
Improve muscular function – Stretching helps to improve oxygen and nutrient rich blood to circulate better throughout the body and also helps to remove the byproduct lactic acid from your system more quickly. It also helps to prepare the muscles for activity which is especially true in the case of dynamic stretching.
Reduce stress – Chronic stress can cause a number of undesirable responses in the body. Regular stretching has been shown to reduce mental tension, and when combined with mindful breathing techniques, it may also help to decrease anxiety and depression.
PTW’s Stephanie McDougal, PT, DPT is the Clinical Supervisor at our Souderton clinic. For an initial evaluation, call Steph at 215 855 1160 today!