Stretching will improve flexibility, mobility and posture by correcting abnormal pull on the joints from tight muscles. In addition, stretching will lubricate and nourish joints as the joints move in the synovial fluid. Nevertheless, caution must be taken regarding stretching because injuries can occur if stretching is not done properly. There are 2 basic types of stretching; dynamic and static stretching.
Stretching before exercise should be done as a part of a warm up by performing active or dynamic stretches. Dynamic stretches mimic functional movement and actively work the muscle while you are stretching. The stretches prepare the body for movement by increasing blood flow and temperature to the muscles. Dynamic stretching and warming up should occur simultaneously. Slow and gentle active movements that gradually increases in range of motion are ideal for dynamic stretching. For example: try an active mini lunge right and left combined with an overhead reach and then gradually increase the range of motion. If your muscles are not warmed up, static stretches should be avoided. A proper warm up with dynamic stretches is crucial for comfort and pain relief for individual’s arthritis
In order to increase and maintain range of motion, static stretches (a stretch with a hold), should be performed after a 5 to 10 minute active warm up. A warmed up muscle is able to stretch farther, without injuring the muscle. All of the major muscle groups should be stretched for at least 30 seconds, with large muscle groups such as the hamstrings held for at least 60 seconds. Wellness stretches should never be painful, but individuals should feel a good firm stretch. Coordinating stretching with deep breathing is best for deep stretches as well as relaxation.
At GroupHab Physical Therapy we use both dynamic and static stretching in all of our classes to insure that each individual leaves feeling stretched and refreshed!
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