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Tuesday, September 27 2011
Stretching Basics
Compiled by Linda Craigg, NMT, LMT*

WHAT STRETCHING IS
…the body’s link between your sedentary life & active life.

1. Keeps muscles supple, prepares you for movement, increases flexibility and facilitates a healthy transition from inactivity to exercise.
2. Injury prevention – especially for active sports such as running, which can create tightness & inflexibility. Reduce affects of joint compression caused by high impact sports and removes toxins (including lactic acid) from body.
3. Tool to increase body awareness – determine tight areas (right hamstring, left hip, etc.); target areas that need more focus.
4. Develop stretch routine to restore balance to your body; should be customized to individual muscular structure, flexibility & tension. NOT one size fits all!
5. Goal = reduce muscular tension + promote ease of movement. Stretching promotes extension in the body to offset the flexion prevalent in modern life.

KEY TO SUCCESS = REGULARITY, PATIENCE & RELAXATION

 
WHAT STRETCHING IS NOT…

1. Competition between others or yourself (your flexibility varies daily)
2. Stressful or rushed
3. Ballistic/bouncing
4. Time to hold your breath or hyperventilate (breathe naturally)


DON’T BOUNCE + DON’T HOLD BREATH + DON’T COMPETECARDINAL RULE: IF A STRETCH CAUSES PAIN, STOP IMMEDIATELY!
 

WHEN TO STRETCH... ANYTIME!! In the morning when you wake up; at work to release nervous tension; after extended sitting or standing; when you feel stiff; before & after exercise; during travel; at odd times during the day (leisure time); before bed

 
HOW TO STRETCH
  • Stretch slowly and evenly – No Bouncing!
  • Gently pull muscle to end zone; hold 15 second; repeat 3 times on each side; stretch bilaterally (work right and left sides)
  • Overstretching is worse than no stretching; contracts and tears muscles, resulting in injury and/or decreased flexibility
  • Know your limits; stretching is not a competition or contest; individual needs are different and require specific stretches
  • Breathe during stretch to help body take in oxygen and allow muscles to release
  • Stretch before and after activity (Warm ups/Cool downs)
  • Be consistent – try to stretch every day
  • Feel younger, enhance awareness and have fun!
 
METHODS OF STRETCHING:

Not only are there numerous ways to stretch an individual muscle, but there are several techniques to stretch as well. Finding a successful stretching program is like finding a successful diet – and what works for your running partner may not work for you. For stretching the hip flexors, one runner may prefer a standing stretch, another may prefer a seated stretch and yet a third may get the most benefit from a recumbent stretch. Always warm up before stretching. Some of the primary types of stretches are:

STATIC – slow movements; gentle pulling; hold 10 - 15 seconds; repeat 3 – 5 times per side, alternate left & right
BALLISTIC - Old school (bouncing); worse than not stretching at all
PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) – specific and involving contraction (resistance) alternating with lengthening stretch; usually done with trainer or therapist
PARTNERS STRETCHING - uses leverage to attain a deeper stretch; fun variation
THAI MASSAGE – traditional bodywork in Thailand, integrating yoga techniques, deep leverage stretching and acupressure.

 
 
TOOLS & TIPS:
  • Hydration – plenty of WATER supplemented by sports drinks (for electrolytes)Stretch books/charts/guides; Check out internet sites with illustrated stretches for general lifestyle and running
  • Cross-training – especially swimming, pilates, yoga (all low impact)
  • Theraband, yoga strap or wide belt
  • TheraCane, tennis balls and/or massage tools
  • Hydrotherapy – ice packs (acute pain) & moist heat (chronic pain) Topicals such as Biofreeze (cold therapy gel for specific muscles) + Epsom salts (soak feet or add to bath)
  • Therapy as needed, including physical therapy, chiropractic/applied kinesiology, sports/therapeutic massage & personal trainers (trained in sports & exercise physiology)
  • Inversion tables for traction/extension of spine
 
 
 
 
 

*Reference: Stretching, 20th Anniversary *Revised Edition by Bob Anderson, Illustrated by Jean Anderson, Copyright 2000, Shelter Publications, 223 p. (also available as DVD)

 
 
Posted by: Linda Craig AT 09:55 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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