Touching your toes or moving your head in a circle feels positively wonderful to most healthy adults. But the benefits of stretching are still a puzzle.
I was suffering from hamstring pain (self-diagnosed) which I then confirmed by visiting my physical therapist at Kaiser. After my assessment, which ruled out anything more serious, he gave me a series of stretches to do at home. I had to work up to holding the stretch on my leg for four minutes. At first, I thought I heard him wrong, but he was certain this would help and it did.
Dr. Hertel, a professor of Sports Medicine at the University of Virginia, explains there is an upside of a full range-of-motion and why sometimes feeling good is enough reason to get those shoulders, hamstrings and other areas moving. “Stretching is really moving a joint to lengthen the muscle.”
There is empirical evidence that stretching helps. Full research has not yet concluded it does, but in my opinion, I am living proof it works! From a performance standpoint, greater range of motion always helps us become more flexible – at any age. When I used to go to yoga, in addition to an improved range-of-motion, I also noticed a change for the better in my flexibility.
Sometimes stretching can be painful, so you must be careful not to move beyond the sensation of the stretch. Holding a stretch can vary from five to six seconds to three to four minutes. Most common holds for a static stretch are 20 to 30 seconds. It is best to repeat a minimum of three times but you can do as many as ten if time allows. Remember, never bounce! And two or three-second stretches won’t benefit your either.
When I returned to physical therapy, I showed significant improvement (probably because I always do my homework). This time the therapist taught a different stretch. I had to lie on the floor with my leg straight up against a doorway, knee straight and hold for six seconds, repeating 12 times. When I asked why I needed to do it this way, he said it breaks up the boredom and different types of stretches, such as active, static isolated stretching, would also improve my recovery.
I asked the therapist when I would feel “normal” again. He said, when you stretch both legs, your range of motion is back to where it was before your injury and both legs feel about the same.
Lori Michiel Fitness offers Post Re-hab Training to assist clients in maintaining the routine prescribed by their therapist. When I instruct my clients to stretch, before and after exercise, I join in. It’s my way of getting that extra stretch into my own routine.
For more information about what is the best way to stretch for your body, reducing pain from arthritis or injury, improving balance and more, follow us on Facebook, check out our website at www.lorimichielfitness.com, email us or simply call us at 818-620-1442 for a consultation. We see SENIOR fitness differently.