Stretching Tips

“When, how, static or dynamic, before or after exercise” are just some of the questions my patients
often ask about stretching.
The recommendations for stretching seem to change from year to year and from one expert to the
next. While researchers continue to look at the benefits and pitfalls of stretching, there is still limited
and often conflicting evidence.
The goal of stretching is to develop and maintain an appropriate range of motion around specific
joints. It is important to customise your routine to fit your needs. Therefore assessing your body and
your sport or the amount of time you’re sat at your desk is important to make sure you stretch (and
strengthen) in order to reduce muscle imbalances. Stretching tight muscles should go hand in hand
with strengthening the weak muscles.
So, with that in mind, here are 5 tips to be safe and effective when you stretch and to put in place in
your New Year exercise programme resolutions….!
Don’t consider stretching a warm-up. A warm up should be specific to the exercise you are about
to do, so start with light walking or jogging and gradually increase the intensity. It is thought that
dynamic stretches are best to do at this time, such as lunges prior to running or playing football, again
to prepare the body for the movement/sport you are about to do. Research suggests static
stretching, where the stretch is held for approx 30 seconds, is best done after exercise during the cool
down period.
Don’t bounce. Most experts believe ballistic, or bouncing during a stretch may increase the risk of
injury. This is because the muscle may reflexively contract if re-stretched quickly following a short
relaxation period.
Perform balanced stretching. This means you should always stretch the muscles on both sides of
your body evenly. Don’t stretch one side more than the other side.
Don’t aim for pain. Expect to feel tension while you’re stretching, but not pain. If it hurts, you’ve
pushed too far so ease off and then gradually move more into the stretch.
Keep up with your stretching. Stretching can be time-consuming. But you can achieve the best
benefits by stretching regularly. Studies support that range of motion can be increased by a thirty
second stretch for each muscle group per day. However, some people require a longer duration or
more repetitions depending on how stiff you are to start.
For more information around stretching why not tweat Julia @juliaphysio or email
Julia.peters@backinactionuk.com

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