Stretching is an often overlooked aspect of health, but yet it so important. There is a lot of misguided information when it comes to stretching. In this blog I want to explain why it is important to stretch and explain the proper timing and method to get the most bang for your buck while stretching.
Stretching helps to improve the flexibility of the muscles, ligaments and tendons of the body. This is important because tight muscles can effect your posture, your mobility, and your overall health. Loose and limber muscles prevent injury and long-term chronic pain. Most people who come to see me do not possess normal flexibility in their muscles and that has led to pain and dysfunction in their bodies.
Old school thinking was to stretch before you workout to better prepare yourself for the workout. New research shows that stretching before you workout actually makes you weaker and more prone to injury. The best thing to do before a workout is to WARMUP! Get your body temperature up. Do dynamic movements to prepare your joints for the upcoming exercise. The best time to stretch is AFTER you workout! Your muscles are fully warm and will handle the stretches comfortably and without injury risk.
Muscles are Like Marshmallows
Stay with me here. If you take a marshmallow out of the bag and stretch it…what happens? Eventually it rips in half. the same is true for stretching a cold muscle. Now, if you take that same marshmallow and heat it up in the microwave for 15-20 seconds and then you take it out and begin stretching it, what happens? You can stretch it much farther and for longer right?
Get it? Same thing is true for your muscles.
How to Stretch
Stretch in a slow controlled manner. Many times I see people in the gym bouncing their stretches…there is no need to do that. Slow and controlled stretches are the safest. The ideal time to hold stretches is between 30-60 seconds to receive the full benefit of the stretch.
Before your workout, warm-up instead of stretch. After your workout do as much stretching as you can. Make sure you are stretching to keep your body as healthy, strong, and mobile as possible! If you would like help with your stretching routine, I would love to help!
Yours in Health
Dr. Steven Bourdage DC