Stretching is the deliberate lengthening of muscles in order to increase muscle flexibility and joint range of motion. Stretching in a wrong way causes unnecessary pains. A few proper stretching techniques are as follows
- Warm up first
Stretching muscles when they’re cold increases your risk of pulled muscles. Warm up by walking while gently pumping your arms, or do a favorite exercise at low intensity for five minutes.
- Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds It takes time to lengthen tissues safely. Hold your stretches for at least 30 seconds – and up to 60 seconds for a really tight muscle or problem area. That can seem like a long time, so wear a watch or keep an eye on the clock to make sure you’re holding your stretches long enough. For most of your muscle groups, if you hold the stretches for at least 30 seconds, you’ll need to do each stretch only once.
- Don’t bounce
Bouncing as you stretch can cause small tears (micro tears) in the muscle, which leave scar tissue as the muscle heals. The scar tissue tightens the muscle even further, making you even less flexible – and more prone to pain.
- Focus on a pain-free stretch
If you feel pain as you stretch, you’ve gone too far. Back off to the point where you don’t feel any pain, then hold the stretch.
- Relax and breathe freely
Don’t hold your breath while you’re stretching
- Stretch both sides
Make sure your joint range of motion is as equal as possible on each side of your body
- Stretch before and after activity
Light stretching after your warm-up followed by a more thorough stretching regimen after your workout is your best bet
With your new-found knowledge of the proper techniques and benefits of stretching, it will be easy to incorporate this activity into your exercise/rehabilitation regimen. Here are a few good stretches to try:
- Low Back Stretches
Three quick and easy exercises to stretch the lower muscles of your back.
- Morning Stretches
Stretching in the morning is a great way to “waken” up your muscles, and get them ready for the day.
- Self Assisted Neck Stretches
Stretches can be done with self assistance to obtain a more efficient stretch. Here you can learn how to perform self assisted stretches of the neck.
Although the benefits of stretching are many, is not for everyone. Conditions in which stretching should be avoided include:
- Acute Muscle Strains
People who have suffered an acute muscle strain should avoid placing further stress on the muscle through stretching activities. The injured muscle should be given time to rest. Stretching muscle fibers in the acute period can result in further injury.
- Fractured Bones
After breaking a bone, the fracture site needs time to heal. Stretching muscles that surround this injured area can place stress on the bone and prevent it from healing as well as further displace the break. Stretching a joint that surrounds a broken bone should never be done until cleared by your physician.
- Joint Sprains
When you sprain your joint, you overstretch the ligaments that help stabilize the bones that form the joint. For this reason stretching early after a joint sprain should be avoided. As with fractures, these structures need time to heal and stretching too early in the injury will delay this process.