Stretching Basics: Why, How & When

There is a ton of information out there on why to stretch, how to stretch, and when to stretch. Do you stretch before or after you exercise, or both? Well, the following will clear up those questions.

WHY Stretch?

Stretching is important for gaining and maintaining proper range of motion. This increase in range of motion causes your muscles to generate more force, and helps you perform better. Muscles shorten as they get tired during exercise, which leads to less speed and power generation.

Even everyday tasks will seem easier, but even more importantly, flexible muscles are less prone to injury and soreness. Your muscles contain stretch receptors that talk to your brain about their overall level of tension. When your muscles are always tight, your body is thrown out of alignment. This can lead to a lot of things such as neck and back pain, tension headaches, sciatica, etc.

Stretching can undo most of the postural damage we do in our daily lives. It is also great for mental health to help you unwind and relax.

HOW to Stretch

Make sure you are loose and ready to go before going right into the stretches. Stretching before warming up can lead to pulled muscles. Warm up by walking or doing your favorite exercise at low intensity for a few minutes.

Hold each stretch for 30 seconds, and up to 60 seconds for problem areas. If you feel pain, back off until the pain stops and hold the stretch. Make sure to breathe, and with each exhale try to make the stretch deeper.

WHEN to Stretch

Some light stretching before an activity is fine but focus most of your stretching after your workout. You can do more of a dynamic stretch prior to working out as well. Some dynamic stretches are high knees, butt kickers, karaoke steps, ladder drills and much more.

Some conditions in which stretching should be avoided include acute muscle strains, fractured bones, and joint sprains.

I hope this helped answer some questions you may have had and if you or anyone you know are experiencing pain and would like to take the first steps toward getting relief, just call Atlas Chiropractic in Boulder at (303) 442-5911 and we’ll gladly get you scheduled for an appointment or feel free to fill out a web form here on our website. We look forward to helping you heal and get moving!

Dr. Cort Musolf, DC

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