The importance of stretching your muscles

The importance of stretching your muscles

If there is something you can do for yourself that is simple and very beneficial for your well-being, it is stretching.

Gentle, controlled elongating of your muscles is what we call stretching. It is a natural, instinctive behaviour.

Most of us will stretch in bed when we wake up or, as we start a physical activity, we will feel the need to reach our arms overhead and stretch from fingers to toes.

There are many advantages to stretching on a regular basis: it will increase your flexibility, help avoid injuries and increase circulation in your muscles, and it is a fantastic anti-stress activity.

Without stretching, your muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage.

For example, sitting in a chair all day results in tight hamstrings in the back of the thigh. That can make it harder to extend your leg or straighten your knee all the way.

Likewise, when tight muscles are suddenly called on for a strenuous activity that stretches them, such as playing paddle, they may become damaged from suddenly being stretched. Injured muscles may not be strong enough to support the joints, which can lead to joint injury.

Before you start a sporting activity, we recommend you prepare your muscles and your joints to the tensions and pressures they will be submitted to by your exercise. These stretches will allow the joints of your body to perform their daily functions without discomfort and reduce muscle tension, reduce stress on your body and improve your posture.

Stretching routines should be performed at least three times per week, as well as before and after any physical activity.

You don’t need to stretch all the muscles of your body, but major muscle groups. The areas critical for mobility are in your lower extremities: your calves, your hamstrings, your hip flexors and your quadriceps in the front of the thigh. Stretching your shoulders, neck, and lower back is also beneficial.

In order to gain the benefits of stretching, it’s important to stretch properly.

To avoid any kind of injury to your muscles, remember to never stretch a cold muscle.

Be sure to warm the muscles up for 5-10 minutes before you begin stretching. A warm-up consists of a light version of exercise to relax and loosen the muscles, such as rotations of your shoulders, moving your arms up and down, bending and lifting your knees repetitively, go for a five-minute stroll or five minutes on the stationary bike.

The goal is to increase blood flow to the muscles and tendons (you won’t need to do this after your workout because the muscles are already loose).

Hold each stretch gently for 20 to 30 seconds. Pain should not be a part of stretching. Breathe slowly and deeply. As you exhale, you may feel yourself naturally sink a little deeper into the stretch.

Be gentle. Never force a stretch. Instead, gently ease your way into a stretch and let your body dictate how far you can go. Flexibility will naturally increase over time. Forcing a stretch will only result in injury, not increased flexibility.

Be consistent. The best way to build flexibility is with a consistent stretching routine. Aim for three to five days per week. If you commit to a stretching programme, you will see results.

Stretching feels good. It’s an excellent way to cool down and relax after an invigorating workout. Furthermore, research has shown that stretching can lower blood pressure and improve artery function. It’s a natural stress reliever.

If you find yourself with some difficulties stretching because of joint pain, you may need a good chiropractic adjustment to recuperate your joint mobility.

We recommend you schedule a chiropractic examination as chiropractic care improves joint and nervous system functions and may assist you in performing your physical activities and keep you at your optimal level of fitness.

By Sandra Genest-Boudreau | Christophe O. Alves
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Sandra Genest-Boudreau is French-Canadian, who graduated from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in 1990 before coming to the Algarve in 2002. She is passionate about adjusting all her patients, particularly children. Christophe Alves graduated from the Anglo-European College of Chiropractic (AECC) UK, and has a special interest in Sport Chiropractic. Algarve Quiroprática clinic: EN125 in Pêra | 282 312 853 | 969 397 375
Licença da ERS n.º 17485/2019 de 11-06-2019