“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!”
– Dr. Seuss
Some experts claim that stretching is a bad idea and they aren’t wrong! If you stretch too much or attempt to stretch without the right goals or proper instruction, it could lead to disastrous outcomes. Most people are unaware of the components of good stretching. Determining goals and learning what type of stretching that works best for you are most important to avoid pain and injury.
The 2 main goals to consider when stretching are whether you want to just prep the muscles for strenuous activity or whether you would like to lengthen the muscles to increase range of motion and improve movement? If you are getting ready for a work out or about to do strenuous activity the type of stretching that would be better suited for you would be Ballistic, which involves bouncing , or a short duration static stretches, which involves holding a stretch for a short period of time. You also want to make sure that you are stretching target muscles that you will be utilizing. If you are looking to improve your range of motion and optimize movement while recorrecting your posture, then you would be more suited to visit a specialist that can help teach you Static, Active Isolated, and/or PNF stretching that would include the proper movements, adequate amounts of pressure and durations, and tips to avoid overstretching.
The idea behind stretching, either for activity prep or for increasing range of motion, is to avoid injury. Stretching increases blood flow to the area which increases localized temperature making the muscle fibers more pliable and easier to reduce muscular tension. The increase in blood flow also brings nutrients to the area that assists in the recovery of muscle tissue from activity and injury. With benefits like that, it should be an easy choice that stretching is a good move, but remember to stretch smart and stretch well. Always remember to seek professional advice on stretching from professionals such as chiropractors, massage therapist, personal trainers, and rehab specialists!