For decades we’ve believed that stretching the body before physical activity was key to increasing flexibility, avoiding injury and improving athletic performance. Unfortunately, we made a lot of assumptions about stretching that were not tested with appropriate scientific scrutiny.
In their article “Myths and Truth about Stretching”, that appeared in The Physician and Sport Medicine, medical doctors Ian Shrier and Kav Gossal admit there are numerous misconceptions and conflicting information about stretching. The two physicians reviewed over 60 studies related to issues involving stretching and acknowledged the contradictions. But they concluded that “stretching may provide substantial benefits if used under appropriate conditions.”
Dr. Ruiz is a great source for advice on stretching. Before making recommendations, Dr. Ruiz and his team take into account a patient’s physical condition and health history. Regular stretching can help sustain correct body alignment and posture. It extends the flexibility and range of motion of your joints. When your joints can’t maintain their full range of motion, you tire more easily. This makes it more difficult to complete daily tasks you normally take for granted.
Stretching keeps your body more coordinated. This can be especially helpful to seniors, who are more susceptible to falling. Stretching also helps relax stressed muscles. Keeping your joints and muscles loose allows for better blood circulation so every part of your body gets sufficient oxygen and nutrients.
The following tips give you an overview of stretching as it relates to a general fitness plan:
- Never skip the “warm up”
- Do the three different types of stretching–
- Dynamic Stretching — this involves moving your body while engaging in stretching techniques. Some studies indicate that dynamic stretching is best conducted before engaging in physical activity.
- Static Stretching — the goal is to stretch the muscle to its farthest point without causing pain, and you generally hold a static stretch for 30 seconds.
- Ballistic Stretching — these are bouncing stretches. Some experts believe ballistic stretching can put you at risk of pulling your muscles more easily than other types of stretching, so be careful.
If you have any questions for Dr. Ruiz about the best stretches for you, just ask. Dr. Ruiz is available to advise some great stretches for your back and body any time you come in for a chiropractic adjustment. See you soon!