To Stretch or Not To Stretch?

By Erin Rothenburger RMT
Registered Massage Therapist

There are 2 main categories of stretching:

1. Static Stretching: The muscle is placed in a lengthened position and held for a period of time. The holding time may vary depending on the individual or the desired results.

2. Dynamic Stretching: Involves the lengthening of muscles through active free or passive (someone else does the work for you) movement. There is no hold, but rather a flow of movement into and out of the lengthened position.

Not every “body” is created equal. Some people are naturally more flexible than others. When an individual has limited mobility and feels an ongoing sense of tightness or stiffness, then static stretching is best used between activities. If an individual is quite mobile, but has the need to limber up, then dynamic stretching is best.

Just because a muscle hurts doesn’t mean that static stretching is the answer. When a muscle is injured, often it is best to cut back on static stretching while the healing takes  place, focusing on moderate gentle dynamic stretches and movements in the mean time.

Warming up prior to activity: Whether you are a professional athlete, or are stepping outside to shovel snow (hopefully not too soon), an appropriate warm up is important in order to avoid injury. A warm up should familiarize your muscles with the activity that you are about to perform. Go through similar motions to the activity with either light weights or with no resistance. Static stretching prior to a performance may actually reduce strength and slow the nervous system.

If you are not sure which stretches are best for you, or you would like more information on how to properly perform stretches, consult your health care professional at Core Link Wellness.

 

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