As a Registered Massage Therapist, I am regularly educating my clients on stretching so that they keep their muscles healthy and flexible in between registered massage therapy sessions.
I see a lot of clients who decide to go hard at the gym or with a particular activity after a period of being sedentary or inactive. They complain that they can’t walk after or that their muscles are very sore. Often they tell me that they didn’t stretch after the activity.
The other spectrum of individuals I see with tight muscles are those that have to maintain prolonged and sustained postures for long periods of time such as office workers who sit in front of a computer for 8 hours or more per day. Ninety percent of the time, these clients tell me that they don’t have a chance to stretch or change positions through the day and end up feeling really sore by the days end.
Unfortunately, both of these scenarios can lead to shortened or tight muscles. This can cause an imbalance of pressure on the joint and can lead to decreased mobility. Less mobility in the joint means less lubrication and less nutrition of the joint, muscles, tendons and ligaments. Also, the muscle tissue receives less oxygen due to decreased blood flow and the reduced circulation means lactic acid has a higher potential to build up in the muscles.
The solution is to stretch. Stretching improves range of motion, flexibility and blood flow as well as decreasing the overall pain and tension caused by tight muscles.
General Rules To Follow When Stretching
- When stretching you are typically moving the muscle in the opposite direction of it’s action
- Stretch slowly, don’t bounce and only go to a comfortable level of stretch or you may injure the tissue
- You should not feel any pain
- Avoid stretching unstable or hypermobile structures
- You may feel a release of the muscle and/or a twitch while you are stretching
When to Stretch?
Before a workout, activity or competition perform dynamic stretching. These are large movements that help to stretch your muscles, joints and other tissues and prepare them for the activity. This should be completed after you warm up. Examples include, hip swinging, arm circles and body twisting.
You should also stretch after a workout or activity. This is when you should preform static stretches. These are stretches that you hold for a period of time in order to isolate specific muscles that you have exercised.
Stretching is a proven and effective method to help prevent injuries and decrease muscle related pain. Try to include it into your daily routine in order to keep your body flexible and your tissues happy and healthy! If you get too tight and you don’t feel that your stretches are helping you, then feel free to book a massage therapy appointment with me and I can help you get back on track again.