24 Feb To stretch or not to stretch?
Should I be stretching? How often should I stretch? How long should I hold a stretch for? What types of stretching is most effective? Is it possible to over stretch? These are amongst many commonly asked questions an osteopath answers every day. The truth of the matter is that the answers to all of the above differs from patient to each patient and from each case of injury.
Muscles can be stretched either statically or dynamically with both having beneficial qualities. Static stretching is performed after an exercise session and is used to relieve sore and tired muscles, especially after a highly intense workout. Dynamic stretching, on the other hand, is done before exercising as it warms up the muscles and joints in the body for the activity about to be performed. Studies have indicated that static stretches should be held for up to 30 seconds and dynamic stretches be completed in sets of 10 – 15 repetitions for maximum benefit.
Stretching can be performed both in the morning and at night, as well as before and after a workout. This is, however, dependent on your body type, the exercise you engage in and any underlying ailments you may suffer with.
The way your body responds to movement, stretching and exercise will play a role in the way that you stretch. A person who has hypermobility, for example, will not benefit from stretching as it will over flex their joints and overstretch their muscles, resulting in instability and pain. A balance between flexibility and strength should be achieved for optimal body function, which is why a person with a stiff or immobile body should stretch regularly throughout the day. Having joints that are pliable (bends easily) and a body that is more flexible than usual may be detrimental to your musculoskeletal health and can cause you to over stretch your body.
“Should I stretch even though I am injured?” is another question which frequently pops up. Again, this answer is dependent on each individual patient, their fitness level, and their specific injury. For example, a pulled hamstring will not benefit from stretching as it would aggravate the injury, preventing it from healing. After a sufficient amount of rest and with the appropriate assistance of a physical therapist, you will eventually be able to safely stretch the injured muscle again. An injury to a spinal disc or a facet joint sprain in the lower back juxtaposes the therapy for a pulled muscle as the discomfort from spinal injuries may be relieved from stretching the gluteal and hip flexor muscles, thereby reducing pressure in the lower back. Therefore, whether you should or should not be stretching will depend on what type of injury you’ve sustained.
An osteopath can enhance and boost your recovery by providing you with professional advice on what stretches you should be doing and how you should go about performing them safely. Should you wish to speak to one of our experts, please do not hesitate to contact us:
Call: 03303 904 300.
You can also visit our website www.osteovision.life for additional information.