Did you know that some muscle stretching can actually be harmful? While some stretches can help improve your joint health and restore your musculoskeletal balance, other stretches are unnecessary or even damaging. Whether you tend to overstretch or fail to stretch at all, stretching can be a useful tool that coordinates with your other healthy routines to improve your overall health.
Stretching Before Exercising
Maybe you’ve noticed professional athletes performing warm-up routines before a game begins. Often, they engage in half-pace maneuvers such as jogging in place. Did they already stretch before you first observed them? Or are they simply ignoring the conventional wisdom involved in stretching before working out? The answer is neither. They’re actually acting in keeping with current research that has found that simply getting your body moving before straining your muscles is just as helpful as stretching, when it comes to preventing injuries.
Unnecessary Stretching Routines
The result of intense stretching can lead to lengthening muscles so much that they actually lose strength.
Such “over stretch weakness” is common among yoga devotees. Their loose, long muscles can promote the same kind of painful problems that typically come with weak muscles. Of course, weak muscles are a major cause of joint problems.
For those who experience negative results of over stretching, there is a simple solution: Stop stretching. There are other ways to receive the many other benefits of Yoga without the negative results.
Proper Stretching Techniques
Tight muscles that limit joint performance need to be stretched in order to accommodate a normal range of motion. If a person already achieves muscle strength and tone as well as the proper joint flexibility and use, no stretching is necessary. However, if movement is painful or less than optimal due to a tight muscle, then pain and other problems can result.
Take the hamstrings, for instance. Stretching typically involves the patient lying on his or her back, with the leg lifted off the floor, with the knee straightened. A pulling sensation is then felt through the back of the thigh. A healthy amount of lift is around 70 degrees, while the ideal lift is between 80 and 90 degrees.
Another example is hip health. The many muscles that support the area work together to promote your body’s stability and the full range of motion in your hip. By maintaining flexibility and muscle tone in that area, hip pain can be relieved and hip health maintained.
Professional Advice and Intervention
If you have issues with muscle pain or insufficient joint movement, it’s advisable to see a professional physical therapist who can evaluate your stretching needs and recommend a stretching routine that can help alleviate your joint concerns or muscle pain.
Because improperly performed stretching can actually aggravate joint problems, professional consultations can help you understand the precise cause of your limitations or discomfort without the high risk of intensifying the problem.
PhysioDC of Washington, D.C.
Daniel Baumstark and his professional team of physical therapists operate a boutique physical therapy office in downtown Washington, D.C. From athletes to government officials, and from ballerinas to corporate executives, PhysioDC helps people recover, strengthen and return to healthy living. Visit their site at PhysioDC.com or call them at 202-223-8500.
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Photo credits: Top © Scott Griessel/Creatista / Fotolia. Middle © Andrejs Pidjass / Fotolia. Bottom © Andres Rodriguez / Fotolia.
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