Stretching is an integral part of our rehabilitation plans. Whether you just had surgery or you’re recovering from an injury, stretches can help your body heal, improve your range of motion, and help you return to full functionality.
Even after your rehabilitation plan is over, you don’t have to stop stretching. Regular stretching can provide a whole host of health benefits. Stretching can be a standalone activity incorporated into your daily routine at least 2-3 times per week, according to a panel of American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) experts.
Let’s take a look at the health benefits of regular stretching.
Stretching increases flexibility and prevents injury
Regular stretching helps to correct muscle imbalances, and that is a key element of injury prevention. Muscle imbalance increases your risk of injuring yourself due to poor posture, improper form, or movements made using poor posture.
Without stretching, your muscles can shorten and become tight. This reduces your range of motion and can contribute to injuries, too. Stretching regularly helps avoid the problem of shortened, tight muscles.
Stretching reducing inflammation
Muscle injuries can cause inflammation. Interestingly, inflammation starts as a protective mechanism. For example, if you injure a muscle in your upper back, your body naturally increases muscle tension to avoid additional injury. Unfortunately, the increased muscle tension contributes to muscle adhesions 一 more often known as “muscle knots” 一 in your back, which not only limit normal range of motion but cause pain as well.
Where does stretching fit into this picture? Studies show that regular therapeutic stretching can help reduce muscle inflammation and increase connective tissue.
Regular stretching boosts your strength
Stretching and flexibility training won’t replace strength training, but stretching can help make your weight lifting sessions more effective. Stretching after a workout can boost your muscle mass by 318% 一 keep that in mind next time you want to skip your post-workout stretching session!
Increased flexibility and improved freedom of movement
Stretching increases your muscle flexibility, which in turn, supports freedom of movement. Freedom of movement means that everyday tasks, such as tying your shoes or carrying groceries in from the car, is easier. You can move your body how you want, when you want, where you want. This is especially important to consider as you age.
Flexibility training supports mental wellness
Like all exercises, stretching is good for both your body and your mind. Stretching increases the number of monoamine neurotransmitters in your brain. One common neurotransmitter, serotonin, is a chemical messenger known to boost your mood and reduce the risk of anxiety and depression.
Types of Stretching
Just like there are many types of exercise, there are also many types of stretches. Stretches can fall into the following categories:
- Self-myofascial release e.g., using a foam roller
- Static stretching in which you hold a pose for 30-60 seconds
- Active stretches that activate certain muscle groups e.g., certain yoga poses
- Dynamic stretches that involve movement
When you receive physical therapy here at Premier Chiropractic, Steven Levingston, DC and Brittany Anz, DC incorporate many different types of stretching into your plans, and you can continue to practice those movements at home.
Questions? To learn more about our rehabilitation programs or how stretching can help alleviate pain and improve mobility, call our Pearland, Texas, office at 281-223-1172 or use our online scheduling tool to get started.