Is stretching that important?
Every animal knows to stretch when waking up in the morning. Animals know, and with their built-in discipline, they reinforce the importance of their mobility and the ability to move with ease.
Watch a cat, watch a dog, even look at birds as they wake up and start the day.
Humans prepare and get themselves ready for bedtime. Very seldom do we get ready for what the day has in store. Never mind simply getting the body ready to start the day.
We need to adopt an approach of introducing movement and flexibility on a regular basis so that our bodies can be introduced to a little more movement and then a little more movement, instead of having a little less movement and a little less movement on a continual basis. No-one likes to feel stiff and battle to move.
If you compare your current state of ability to move now as an adult, and the amount of general movement done daily, and compound this with the stresses of living, then more than ever flexibility and stretching are vital for general body functioning and overall fitness.
In order to get the benefits of stretching and to achieve greater mobility, it is important to understand the different types of stretching.
There are 4 types of stretching:
1. Dynamic stretching: This is done at the beginning of exercise, getting your joints and muscles ready for the demands of exercise or sport. Even for the day that lies ahead. Start with small movements and gradually make the movements bigger and bigger, increasing the range of motion. Shoulder rolls, arms swings and leg swings are great. Do 10 to 15 movements of each.
2. Static stretching: Most effective at the end of exercises or as you are about to go to bed. These are slow and deliberate with the focus of lengthening the muscle by taking it to its full range. Hold the position of the stretch for 15 to 20 seconds, repeating it 2 to 3 times.
3. PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation): This is a great form of stretching whilst working with a partner or your trainer/professional. This type of stretching can be referred to as the ‘hold contract relax method’. We recommend that you consult with a professional to better understand and feel this stretch. You are welcome to contact Mentholatum’s team of physical therapists for more advice.
4. Ballistic stretching: This type is not recommended. It is when you are in a position of stretching and begin to ‘bounce’ or perform an uncontrollable amount of force when stretching.
We recommend the use of Deep Heat as an adjunct to assist in the preparing and warming up of the muscles before stretching.
We are designed to move. We need to move. Small movements on a regular basis lay the foundation for the greatest results.