We all need to stretch in order to protect our mobility and independence.
Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and helps us retain that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints.
Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage.
For example, sitting in a chair all day results in tight hamstrings in the back of the thigh. That can make it harder to extend your leg or straighten your knee all the way, which affects walking.
Regular stretching keeps muscles long, lean, and flexible, and this means that exertion won't put too much force on the muscle itself.
Healthy muscles also help a person with balance problems to avoid falls.
Independently of your age or health status, there are ways you can carry out stretches in a safe way.
Key points to remember:
Did you know?
Although we used to believe that stretching was necessary to warm up the muscles and prepare them for activity, research has shown that stretching the muscles before they're warmed up can actually hurt them. Try a short walk to warm up the muscles before stretching. You can also stretch after an aerobic or weight-training workout.
A trained exercise physiotherapist who specialises in chronic pain management is a great place to start and your pain specialist can recommend one for you.
Page, Phil (2012) ‘Current concepts in muscle stretching for exercise and rehabilitation.’ Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2012 Feb; 7(1): 109–119.
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