Stretching is an easy, cheap and accessible treatment or management for muscle dysfunction. It is one of the most important parts of self management of any injury, and can be done almost anywhere.
The act of taking a muscle through its full range of movement is definitely beneficial to the body, but only if it is done correctly. Restriction or tightness in muscles is not only frustrating in terms of ability to move, but is also a known precursor to significant muscle injury.
But there are a few things to be mindful of when stretching.
Firstly it shouldn’t be painful. It takes time for a muscle to adapt long term and take on these changes as their normal, so be patient.
It takes consistent stretching and the right technique to allow the muscle to restore full function. If you have one muscle stoping you from doing what you desire, but don’t feel like the stretch is hitting this muscle, it’s not going to be very beneficial. Technique is the key.
There are many ways to stretch, and lots of theories behind what works best. My experience is it depends on the individual, their history and their goals as to what works best for them. If you have specific goals, you need to target them with specific stretching. You can even use stretching as a work out. Pushing a muscle to its endpoint and turning it on burns calories, and can be beneficial by doing it as little as once a week.
For a long time there has been discussion around how beneficial stretching is to reducing injury and improving athletic performance, and it’s still inconclusive. Personally, I stretch because it makes me feel better during the day, and the act of stretching feels good, therefore I find benefit in stretching pre and post workout.
However as good as stretching is there are times where the body needs hands on attention or the knowledge of a qualified health professional. All the stretching in the world wont give the body the same benefits of a session with a qualified therapist. A treatment also gives you a great opportunity to check on your stretching technique.
If you are looking for more flexibility or range of movement, and want to discuss your stretching technique, I encourage you to make a time with one of our therapists at Allied Health Collective.