When the word stretching is mentioned most people think back to when they were playing sport, and did a few leg stretches before the game started. Often stretching was done as a haphazard thing with little direction or instruction.
In this article I will explain what stretching is, why it is important, and the different types of stretching techniques.
Stretching is the lengthening of a muscle structure and the movement of a joint structure.
Our muscles are designed to allow us to move through a range of movement e.g. lifting your arm above your head. This is often referred to as flexibility. When flexibility is poor movement puts pressure on our joint structures e.g. a stiff lower back or neck. This often results in restricted movement and pain.
Regular stretching promotes the maintenance of muscle length, minimising restrictions in movement and pressure on joint structures.
Our bodies are designed to be mobile. The demands of modern society has resulted in many people spending an increasing amount of time not moving. Many aspects of our general health rely on us moving.
Bones: One of the main ways our bones stay strong is our muscles pulling on them. Stress: Tense muscles; Not being able to do the physical things we want to; Pressure on necks, backs, knees etc. “Ain’t good stress”
Toxicity: One of the main detox systems of the body is the Lymphatic System. This system cleans toxins and debris from our cells. It relies on muscle contractions to function.
Types of Stretching:
Dynamic: The objective of dynamic stretching is to increase range of movement beyond normal range. Most often used for sports performance e.g. high kicks in martial arts. It is a movement style of stretching where a body part is repeatedly moved in one direction, progressively increasing the range of the movement. Caution should be taken when choosing this style of stretching. Dynamic stretching has a moderate risk of injury.
Resistance: Often referred to as PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) stretching. The objective of resistance stretching is to return a restricted muscle range back to normal range. It can also be used to increase a range of movement beyond normal. Resistance stretching requires the assistance of a trained professional. A muscle is taken to the end of its normal range. Over pressure is then applied to increase that range. This process is repeated a number of times, allowing the muscle to relax in between each repetition.
Static: The objective of static stretching is to maintain range of movement. It can also be used to increase range when it is restricted. A muscle is moved into a stretched position, and then maintained in that position for a minimum of 20 seconds. The aim is to relax the muscle in the stretched position. As the muscle relaxes the range of the stretch can be increased.
MOVE BETTER, FEEL BETTER
Simon Ayling (Clinical Pilates Instructor/Remedial Massage Therapist)
Simon has produced a stretching manual “Simply Stretch” depicting a 30 minute full body stretching routine. It is available to purchase at Reception in Chevron Island Physio.