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OT - Tone-up Tuesday

Aniki-Moderator's picture

Happy Tuesday, STalkers! I was sitting at my desk for too long and was so stiff that I had to s-t-r-e-t-c-h when I got up.

While it's important to stretch before you exercise, we all need to stretch to keep our muscles flexible, strong, and healthy. We NEED that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage. YIKES!!

Repetitive athletic movements can reduce your range of motion by tightening the muscles and tendons. ... Your body gains muscle tone, strength, and resilience this way. WARM UP BEFORE A WORKOUT. Stretching warms up the muscles, tendons, and joints, which prepares the body for physical exertion.

10 Reasons Why You Should Stretch Regularly

Decreased stress

Chronic stress can produce a number of undesirable responses in the body, including increased feelings of anxiety, fatigue and tension. Regularly stretching has been shown to reduce mental tension and, when combined with mindful breathing techniques, may also help to decrease anxiety and depression.

Reduced pain and stiffness

Excessive muscular tension can increase discomfort throughout the body. However, studies have shown that regularly performing static stretching can help to decrease stiffness, reduce pain levels (especially in individuals with chronic neck or low-back pain), and may even reduce the frequency and severity of muscle cramps.

Improved health

Regularly performing stretching exercises, such as PNF stretching, static stretching, and stretches from mind-body disciplines such as yoga, can help to reduce blood pressure, heart rate and breathing rate, counteracting the body’s physiological responses to stress and muscular tension.

Enhanced range of motion

Various types of stretching as well as other supportive self-care strategies, such as self-myofascial releasing using a foam roller, can help to enhance unrestricted movement of the major joints of the body, including key areas that are designed to be mobile, such as the hips and shoulders.

Improved function

As a result of poor posture, repetitive movement patterns, improper body mechanics, and spending long periods of time seated, muscles in the body can become chronically tense, tight and contracted, causing them to become less strong and supple. Regular stretching utilizing a variety of flexibility training techniques helps to improve overall function by ensuring that the body can more effectively respond to the stresses imposed by various types of movement and activity.

May reduce risk of injury

Although the evidence is far from definitive, there are some promising findings regarding the role that stretching may play in helping to reduce the risk for injury. Dynamic stretches are often used as part of a warm-up to help increase core body temperature and functionally prepare the body for the movements that are to come. As a result, stretching is often considered an important part of injury prevention, as cold muscles and tendons in the body have a greater likelihood of rupture, strain or sprain.

Enhanced performance

When included as part of a well-rounded fitness routine, regular flexibility training, which includes dynamic stretching, can help enhance agility, power, speed and muscular strength.

Improved blood flow and circulation

Regular flexibility training can help to improve blood flow and circulation, thereby allowing for the enhanced transportation of oxygen and nutrient-rich blood throughout the body.

Minimized wear and tear on joints

When muscles become chronically tight and tense, opposing muscles become weakened, producing unnecessary wear and tear on various joint and structures within the body. Regular stretching helps to ensure the muscles on each side of a joint maintain an equal degree of pull so that the joint is able to move freely and efficiently in all directions, allowing for optimal movement and less stress on the body.

Improved quality of life

Although there are physiological changes that occur as we grow older, regularly stretching and performing range of motion exercises can improve flexibility at any age, helping to increase longevity and enhance overall quality of life.

Did you know that when you sleep, your muscles lose tone and fluid tends to pool along your back?  Stretching helps to massage fluid gently back into the normal position. Also, your muscles protect themselves from over-extension by inhibiting the nerve impulses as they approach their limit. So when you get out of bed, take some time to stretch!


lieutenant_dad's picture

I am learning the hard way what happens when you don't adequately stretch. I have don't something to a muscle(s) in my left leg, and running and lots of leg work cause the muscle(s) to tense and hurt. Then I get a dull pain from hip to calf for at least three days after.

It doesn't help that my left leg is shorter and I walk with my feet turned outward. My trainer is trying to get me to walk/run in a straight line, and I am getting better. However, still pain!

So stretch, people! STRETCH!

Aniki-Moderator's picture

Oooooowwwwww, Lt Dad!!!

I think that NOT stretching is one of the reasons why I ended up in PT for my right shoulder. I'm certainly paying for it now, in more ways than one!!

ProbablyAlreadyInsane's picture

I'll put my seal of approval here... I destroyed my competitive swimming career (well any chance of it continuing post high school) by not stretching... Caused an overuse injury in my hip! Which I refused to acknowledge for 7 months, and when I finally went in was told it all vould have been avoided just be consisitent stretching and that it was going to take YEARS to heal, even with steroid shots to help it out.

Aniki-Moderator's picture

YEARS?!?! Crikey!

BTW, I had a chance at competitive swimming many eons ago, but there was no way that hectic schedule would work with 5 kids and my Dad traveling for work.

ESMOD's picture

I got tendonitis in my elbow.. both tennis and golf version. It was from mixing cement...llol.  Anyway it took almost 2 years for me to have anything near a painless feeling in my elbows.  I just started back to working out (5lbs down already woo hoo) and eating a more mindful diet and I am going to be very careful to not aggravate that again.

Aniki-Moderator's picture

Soooo.... I guess you won't mix any cement for my new patio...

Congrats on your loss!!!

Aniki-Moderator's picture

Bummer! Crazy

ProbablyAlreadyInsane's picture

But yay for swimming! But I get it! I was in the pool at 4am every day. LOL Then back in it by 2PM, and some nights I was in it at 9PM as well.... Sleep was foreign, and if I hadn't been able to catch rides (and eventually drive myself) there wouldn't have been ANY way it would have worked.

And yup. It had a flare up last month... My DH walked in to me leaning against the counter  unable to walk for a spell, and in tears because I hadn't felt it in so long.. We're back to stretching and it's been okay the past bit!

Aniki-Moderator's picture

Lake Superior is a litte too cold for swimming just now...

I get to be tortured by the physical therapist tonight. Yippee...

ProbablyAlreadyInsane's picture

That's always fun... BLECK! Good luck with your physical therapist... Don't let him hurt ou too much!

AJanie's picture

Good reminder. I didn't stretch before a hike last weekend (it involved a lot of climbing) and I am still so sore. Working at a desk has my neck and back chronically knotted as well. Ugh.