If you’ve ever had difficulty walking normally or exercising after sitting at a desk all day, you’ve probably experienced some of the downsides of not stretching. In severe cases, a lack of stretching leads to significant injury and lasting pain.
Stretching on your own or with the support of a qualified professional can help keep you healthy and mobile, so you can better enjoy your daily life.
The expert team at Johnson Medical Center in Venice, Florida, focuses on improving your ability to move and function. In some cases, this includes specialized massage and stretching techniques to help bolster your overall health and well-being.
Read on to learn more about stretching, including specialized treatments that can help.
Why you need to stretch
Your muscles only function well when they’re strong and flexible. In order to achieve and maintain both strength and flexibility, you need to stretch regularly. Muscles that go unstretched become tight and shortened. And once that happens, any time you call on your muscles to do their job, you can experience sprains, strains, damage, and joint pain.
The longer you go without stretching and the more sudden or extreme your movements, the more likely you’ll be to develop a serious injury. For example, if you go from a sedentary lifestyle to swinging a tennis racket, your inflexible muscles may not be strong enough to fully support your joints, making way for a dislocation or sprain.
Stretching regularly, on the other hand, helps keep your muscles lean, long, and flexible, so you can move freely with fewer risks. Healthy, flexible muscles also reduce your risk for falls and related injuries, such as fractures.
Proper stretching technique is important for inviting benefits from the practice and for guarding against injuries in the process. Aim to warm your muscles up a bit before stretching, to encourage blood flow to the area and keep your tissue pliable. You could warm up with 5-10 minutes of light walking, for example, and again after your full workout.
Focus specifically on stretching muscles in the areas you’ll use most, holding each stretch for about 30 seconds. You should feel some tension, but never pain. If you do notice pain or aren’t sure where to start, seek professional guidance.
Benefits of therapeutic stretching
At Johnson Medical Center, our on-staff, licensed massage therapists offer a range of massage techniques and therapeutic stretching. Your specially trained provider can massage and stretch soft tissues in your body for:
- Improved circulation
- Released adhesions
- Reduced swelling and inflammation
- Reduced spasms linked with back pain
These benefits may help encourage faster healing after an injury, while helping you regain and maintain normal function. When your back muscles are involved, you can glean the benefit of improved posture as well.
If you’re in significant pain because of an injury, you may be a good candidate for sedative stretching. While you’re under light sedation, your provider carefully stretches muscles in the affected area in ways you wouldn’t be able to do painlessly on your own. Afterward, you’ll feel more nimble, and recovery may come more swiftly.