By: Samantha deCastro
How do we stretch safely to avoid injury? Follow these guidelines, and talk to your therapist about which stretches are best for you!
- There is no good or bad stretches-it’s about what is appropriate for YOU!
- Warm-up: This prepares the body and mind for the stretches, increases the muscle temperature, and increases blood flow to the muscles. Walking or jogging are a great way to warm-up
- Stretch before and after exercising-There is a lot of opinions out there about which is better, but here is the deal…we need both! Before exercise we are preparing the body by moving through the ranges of motion needed for the workout, helping to prevent injury once those joints are loaded. After helps to cool the body down, and aid in recovery of the muscles.
- Stretch all major muscles, as well as their opposing groups- A head to toe routine is the best. Just because a muscle group feels fine, does not mean it won’t benefit from a stretch.
- Stretch gently, slowly and with intention- Barreling head first through a stretch routine to just get it done defeats the purpose of the stretch. Make the time, go slow, focus.
- Stretch to tension, NOT PAIN- If a stretch hurts, talk to your practitioner, it could be as easy as tweaking the stretch.
- BREATHE- Always. Breathe. Deep belly breaths, engage the diaphragm, expand the entire core. This is so important, and help the body into the parasympathetic, or rest and digest, state.
Stretching can be done daily, but deciding what exercise to do can be tough, especially if you do have concerns, pain or an injury. Schedule with a physiotherapist, chiropractor or massage therapist and they can aid you in creating the ideal routine for you.