It’s bloody important to stretch and here’s why!

Feeling stiff and sore and don’t know why? Muscles, like other tissues in our body, need to be well circulated and healthy. We spend most of our day in the same posture. By not stretching, we continue to overuse and fatigue our muscles, making them short and tight. Adhesions are being formed decreasing circulation, flexibility therefore increasing the risk of tendonitis, aches and pain.

The typical muscle groups that are affected are lower back, upper back, neck, forearm, hip and pelvis.

Chronic stress, repetitive movements and stationary postures lead to decreased blood circulation, weak and tensed muscles and finally adhesions. Muscles also start forming trigger points.

What is a Trigger Point?

A Trigger Point is a hyper-irritable spot in skeletal muscle that is associated with palpable nodules in taut bands of muscle fibers referring pain else where.

The “Upper Cross Syndrome” is a common workplace problem that everyone is faced with. Also known as Computer User Posture / Slouched posture causing:

  • Tight: pectoralis & upper back muscles
  • Weak: anterior neck muscles & mid back muscles
  • Symptoms: Include headaches, tension in shoulders and neck pain

The “Lower Cross Syndrome” is very common due to prolonged sitting postures causing:

  • Tight: Hip flexors (psoas muscle) and erector spinae
  • Weak: Abdominals, gluteals and hamstrings
  • Symptoms: Include low back pain, hip pain and increased tension

Benefits of Stretching

Stretching has multiple benefits for both your body and your mind. Incorporating stretching into your daily routine allows muscles to be well circulated and ultimately healthier.
Flexibility – Stretching improves flexibility. The more you stretch, the more you move your muscles, and the more flexible you become. Over time, stretching will become easier for your body which results in improved flexibility.

Posture – Stretching is also beneficial to improve your posture. Poor posture—a common and increasing problem—can easily be reversed and healed with daily stretching. Because stretching strengthens your muscles and encourages proper alignment, your body posture will be less slouched and more vertical.

Injury Prevention – The more you prepare your muscles for any exercising movement, the more your likelihood of injury is decreased. When your muscles are warm and stretched, movement becomes easier and more fluid-like which helps with injury prevention.

Increased Nutrients and Reduced Soreness – Most people know that stretching increases blood supply, but they do not realize that it also increases nutrient supply to muscles. Because stretching allows blood to flow through your body, the nutrients in the blood are being carried and spread out all throughout your body as well. An increased blood and nutrient supply also helps reduce soreness.

Stretching Tips

There are quite a few myths out there regarding when it is best to stretch and how long you should stretch for. Here are some tips to keep in mind when stretching in order to receive the most benefits.

Stretching is not a warm up activity – There is much disbelief out there stating that stretching should be done before a work out is started. However, this is not necessarily true. Stretching with cold muscles may result in injury. Stretching is most effective when muscles are warm. It is best to stretch after a small bout of physical activity. If you would like to stretch before a vigorous workout, try taking a short walk or jog to warm up your muscles first, next you may start stretching, and then you may begin your workout.backache

Focus on muscles that are tight – Tight muscles are a result of soreness and stress. When muscles become tight, it is important to pay attention to these muscles first so that blood flow increases and tension is reduced. Once these previously tense muscles are stretched, movement becomes more fluid-like and soreness is reduced.

Reduce Bouncing – Bouncing while stretching may slightly tear muscles which may lead to scar tissue which further tighten the muscle leading to a decreased flexibility and increased soreness. Stretches should be held for about 15-60 seconds and repeated three or four times. The amount of time spent holding stretches depends on how sore you are and which muscles you want to focus on specifically.

Stretch at least 2-3 days per week for at least 10 minutes a day – Stretching does not need to be time consuming. If you take 10 minutes out of your day to stretch and try to do so at least 2-3 days a week you will achieve the most benefits. If you stretch on an irregular schedule, your body will not be able to maintain a consistent range of motion. Because stretching increases your range of motion, it is important to get in the habit of stretching often in order to increase flexibility.

The elbowroom has a host of accredited specialists that you need under one roof. We’re proud to provide Dublin’s trusted, integrated health care clinic. We firmly believe you and your family deserve to feel fit healthy and pain free.

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