Health Blog

Health and Wellness.

04 Nov

Stretch Your Way Into Better Health and Wellness!

By: Brandi Thiels, PTA

Some people believe that stretching is an unnecessary part of an exercise routine. However, the truth is that stretching is a necessary part of exercise!

Brandi Thiels, Elite Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA), says “Stretching is an important part of one’s daily routine, whether you are practicing regular workouts or not.

Have you been stretching enough for your body’s needs? Maybe you need to consult with your Elite Physical Therapist to find out!

How can a Physical Therapist help with Stretching?

“Since stretching exercises offer so many significant benefits, it’s not hard to see why we use them all the time in physical therapy.”, says Brandi.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “stretching can increase flexibility and improve your joints’ range of motion, helping you move more freely. And ensuring that you have equal flexibility on both sides might help protect you from injury.”

Your Elite PT or PTA will determine the best stretching exercises for the affected area and will implement them in your treatment plan. It is likely that you will be given stretches that you can complete at home, too. These stretching exercises may include groin stretching, quadriceps stretching, knee stretching, calf stretching, and more depending on your areas of need.

Your Elite team can show you how to modify stretches easily with a towel or something similar at home. Knee stretching is very common in all age groups, as knee injuries are common due to overuse or athletic injuries. Activities like running and biking can result in a tight quadriceps muscle. Keep in mind that tight muscles may predispose you to injury, and if this is the case, quadriceps stretches can be implemented in your treatment plan.

What are some different types of Stretches?

Stretching involves stretching connective tissue, a muscle or a tendon. The goal of stretching is to improve range of motion, flexibility and muscle elasticity. The five most common stretching exercises are:

  • Low Load
  • Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF)
  • Static
  • Dynamic
  • Ballistic

Ballistic stretch physical therapy is a rapid bouncing motion to stretch a muscle. Dynamic stretching by a physical therapist entails stretching with motion at different speeds and distances. These movements are performed in a controlled and slow manner. Examples include torso swings, arms swings and leg swings.

Static stretch physical therapy involves stretching the muscle and holding it for a few seconds. PNF entails holding and controlling techniques to activate specific receptors in muscles. This technique improves muscle length and decreases muscle tension. The low load stretching technique is gradual application of tension to enhance connective tissue remodeling.

6 ways you can Benefit from Stretching

  1. Perhaps the main benefit of stretching is heightened energy levels. The increased circulation increases energy levels, and learning to stretch properly will lead you to a more active lifestyle.
  2. Another benefit of stretching is increased blood circulation. Muscles require sufficient oxygen and nutrients in order to perform well. Stretching ramps up blood flow and transports oxygen and nutrients.
  3. Stretching enhances joint range of motion. It enables the body part to move easier. For more dynamic movement, stretching increases muscular coordination. Some physical therapy sessions focus on a muscle group instead of just one muscle for stretching.
  4. Stretching helps reduce muscle tension. You’ll feel the rewards of stretching during your daily routine, such as while you are walking or lifting. Stretching has been known to combat chronic pain; as stated by the American Physical Therapy Association, “According to results of a new systematic review, moderate-grade evidence seems to support strengthening and stretching exercises to help ease chronic neck pain.”
  5. Stretching-specific exercises prior to exercising helps the muscles to achieve maximum range of motion. It also helps strengthen the muscles. That is why during physical therapy stretching is a main focus.
  6. Stretching has also been proven to be a great aid in stress relief. Stretches that include mindfulness work (such as yoga) can prove especially helpful for easing the stress that might otherwise impair your health.

Get stretching today!

Whether or not you see us at Elite, stretching should be part of your daily routine. You will feel better, perform better, and avoid injury by stretching regularly.

Want some stretches you can do at home? Check out Elite’s YouTube channel for tons of videos on stretches you can do at home. To learn more about different stretches and how we can help, contact Elite Physical Therapy today!

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