There are several good reasons to stretch. First, stretching will maintain joint range of motion and flexibility. Flexibility is the total range of motion in a joint or joints.
Second, stretching provides reflex feedback to the muscles causing them to lengthen. It helps relax the muscle(s), and it may also prevent injury of muscles and soft tissues.
Intuitively, if one maintains good flexibility through stretching, there is balance between the body’s opposing muscle groups and enhanced muscular performance.
Stretching should be performed after a light warm up of 5-10 minutes. This increases the blood flow to the tissues and increases the tissue temperature. Increased tissue temperature should allow for greater tissue extensibility and decrease the risk of injury. There is controversy as to how long you should hold a stretch. Some say 10-15 seconds, others say 30-60 seconds, and still others feel there is no benefit to stretching. It is generally recommended to stretch for 20-60 seconds, and to repeat the stretch 2-3 times.
DO YOU NEED A SPECIFIC PROGRAM?
Are you a golfer, skier, gardener? Each activity places specific demands on the body and requires the body to move through different ranges of motion. Physical therapists are movement specialists. We can help you with an appropriate stretching program designed for your specific needs. So if you need some help with stretching, make an appointment. For a small fee, we can help you avoid future injuries.
DOWNLOAD OF THE MONTH
Here is a good stretching program for the shoulders. Stay tuned for a general leg stretching program in the future.