What's in a Stretch?
Updated: Dec 11, 2019
By Mark Kelly
Everyone knows you need to stretch before and after a workout or physical activity but have you ever considered the fact that your muscles need to be stretched during other times?
You might work in an office all day, seated in front of your computer, drive heavy vehicles or swing a big hammer all day. Have you ever thought that your muscles being held in those positions for extended periods might be bad for you?
Well you would be correct, even if your work station is set up ergonomically, you follow all the advice on how to do your particular activity safely and to prevent injury and you don’t feel “sore” or “tight” at the end of the day. The truth of the matter is, your muscles are being contracted, lengthened or over used and let's not forget to mention, circulation (poor old glutes).
Stretching everyday will reward your body with some or all or the following benefits. Be sure to ask your Mels Massage Therapist for some stretches that will assist with reducing your pain and improving your functional movement.
Stress can causes muscles to contract, this tension can leave you feeling uneasy, leading to a negative impact on your mind and body. Stretching loosens your tight muscles, helping the muscles to relax and increases blood flow which also encourages endorphin release. Endorphins give you that “happy” feeling during exercise, chocolate consumption and so on. Stretching before bed will improve your sleeping patterns and first thing in the morning will give you a healthier outlook on the day, getting you happy about work before you get there and are covered in stress again.
Stretching helps to ensure the best possible posture. Tight muscles pull on the skeleton causing poor posture, by lengthening these muscles you allow your skeleton to be as neutral as possible. Tight muscles pulling you out of alignment will also cause pain, which is usually eased by slouching or bending. Most people experience back pain, lower back, shoulders etc. Stretching the muscles of the lower back, chest and shoulders will help keep the spinal column in better alignment and reduce those pains.
The most notable benefit of stretching is improved flexibility and range of motion (ROM). An effective stretching routine can improve your physical performance and reduce the risk of injury. Improving your ROM loosens your joints and allows your muscles to move freely in their movement patterns as they were intended, reducing the amount of effort (energy) required thus improving your performance.
Boost your Stamina
Loosening your muscles and tendons by stretching relieves muscle fatigue and increases blood flow. Stretching can delay the onset of muscle fatigue by ensuring oxygen is flowing optimally through your blood and into your muscles, therefore increasing your stamina a.k.a endurance.
Improved Blood Circulation
By stretching and relaxing the muscles you make it easier for blood to flow through them. Increased blood flow (oxygen and nutrients to the muscles) will help reduce post-workout soreness (DOM’s) and reduce recovery times. Improving overall health through improved cell growth and organ function. The heart will also be under less stress as it won’t have to work as hard to pump blood through the body.