As a general rule, you’ll want to remember to stretch before you exercise to prevent muscle soreness and injuries. It is one of those parts of fitness that some people love and other people overlook when they are eager to get out there and start their routine. Whichever side of the fence you fall on, it helps to remember that stretching is one of the most important things you can do to take care of your health.
Unlike with sports, stretching only comes with a few rules to follow. The most general rule for stretching that you need to know is that you always want to stretch before you engage in any form of exercise.
Even walking can strain a muscle and lead to a need for chiropractic care if you trip and fall over an obstacle in your path. Learning how and when to stretch helps you to stay limber and ready to handle the increased strain on those crucial muscles and ligaments.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Are the Four Basic Rules for Stretching?
- 2 Which Is the Best Expert-Recommended Stretching Technique for Fitness?
- 3 What Types of Stretching Should Everyone Do?
- 4 How Not to Stretch
- 5 Stretching and Chiropractic Care: A Match Made in Heaven
- 6 How Stretching Helps Your Chiropractic Adjustments
- 7 Let Healing Hands Chiropractic Get You on the Right Track!
What Are the Four Basic Rules for Stretching?
Stretching is meant to help you prevent injuries, but doing it wrong can lead to serious strains. Ultimately doing them incorrectly can lead to strains and tears that can impact your ability to maintain your fitness routine.
Following these four basic rules puts you in the right place for increasing your flexibility without getting hurt.
- Warm-up first: Stretching tends to be viewed as a warm-up before exercise, and it technically does help to get your body moving. However, you’ll also want to avoid stretching your muscles when they are cold. Keep in mind that you don’t want to do anything too strenuous. Try walking in place for a few minutes to start warming up your muscles. You’ll find that you can stretch further once you’ve helped get your blood pumping through your extremities.
- Use gentle stretches: Stretching is not the time to follow the mindset of “no pain, no gain.” Instead, you’ll want to take each stretch just to the point of feeling gentle pressure in your muscles. If you feel extreme pain, then you went too far. Once you reach the point where you feel tension, you’ll hold the stretch for an appropriate amount of time before releasing it. Over time, you’ll eventually find that you can stretch further than before.
- Focus on the correct muscle: Many stretches impact several muscles at once. Yet, you’ll want to be fully aware of which muscle group you are targeting. For instance, you’ll want to focus on using your legs rather than your lower back for certain stretches to avoid a major strain. If you aren’t sure if you are doing a stretch correctly, then working with a chiropractor can help you learn which muscles you are engaging during each type.
- Move slowly: Your body responds to jerky movements by tensing up in an effort to avoid an injury. Remember to move through each stretch slowly. This allows you to watch out for signs of pain that signify when to stop. Your body will also respond to gentle movements by allowing you to deepen your stretches without feeling a muscle pop.
Which Is the Best Expert-Recommended Stretching Technique for Fitness?
Static stretching is typically the most recommended technique for people who are new to increasing their flexibility because it is the safest form. With static stretching, you simply place your body into a position that elongates your muscles and ligaments without adding elements such as pressure. Starting with this technique helps you to avoid going too far too fast.
What Types of Stretching Should Everyone Do?
At first, most people will want to start out with basic stretches that cover a wide range of different muscle groups. In time, you’ll find the ones that you want to include in your everyday routine along with a few others that you’ll want to add for specific purposes such as before a workout. These types of stretching are all great for people from a wide range of fitness levels, and including them in your daily regimen helps you to achieve your peak level of flexibility.
Start the Day with Early-Morning Stretching
Early-morning stretches are designed to help you work out those kinked muscles that develop during the night. You’ll find that many of the same stretches that you do in the morning also fall in line with gentle yoga poses. For instance, doing the child’s pose can help you to stretch out your lower back and shoulders. You can also do some gentle neck, calf and arm stretches to get you ready for your day.
Stretching Your Neck Before Bedtime Helps Too
When you stay in a position for too long when you sleep, it can cause a great deal of discomfort in your neck. Of course, a stiff neck when you wake up in the morning is no fun! However, if you stretch before bed, you can loosen your muscles. This will help you get a better night’s sleep, and you’ll feel better when you wake up. You don’t want to cause more pain by doing something strenuous right before bed, and just a few simple moves that stretch and relax you all it takes.
Learn to Do the Front Split
The front split might seem like an impossibly challenging achievement to reserve for gymnasts, but focusing on learning how to do one gives you the opportunity to work through several important stretches. There are four main stretches that you can do to start increasing the flexibility in your glutes, hamstrings and hip flexors. Working through a front split stretching routine several times a week may even help you achieve this amazing display of flexibility.
Loosen Up By Doing Partner Stretches
Partner stretching turns your routine into a social activity that also yields different benefits from doing your stretches alone. On top of helping you to achieve accountability, you can work with a partner to push your muscles slightly further than you might be able to do on your own. With a partner, you’ll want to remember that communication is key to preventing an injury.
As your partner helps to guide your body into position, let them know if you feel pain or notice any unusual feelings within your body. Working with a professional chiropractor can also help you to perform partner stretches using the correct form while making sure that you don’t sustain an injury. You may even use this type of stretching as part of your treatment plan if you are recovering from a back or neck injury.
How Not to Stretch
Many people don’t realize that there are some types of stretching that you should avoid. Stretches designed to improve your flexibility might seem like they will help almost everyone, but even these can be dangerous for certain individuals with health conditions such as epilepsy or blood clots. If this is the case, it’s best to speak with your chiropractor about how to use stretches in a safe manner that yields the best results. Once you get the ok, here are a few guidelines to go by.
Don’t Stretch Cold Muscles
You may be tempted to stretch out your muscles as soon as you wake up in the morning, but many experts recommend waiting until they have warmed up. Cold and stiff muscles tend to tear more easily than those that are warm and limber. You might also consider doing some light cardio or wearing a heart monitor for five minutes before starting each stretching session. Also, a warm bath in the morning can help cold muscles.
Don’t Go Too Fast
When you don’t take your time, stretching can actually cause injury. Rushing through the motions leads to a sloppy performance and a greater chance for an injury such as pulling or tearing a muscle. If you need help with getting into a position, it might be better to ask someone else in your household rather than rushing yourself out of the gate.
Don’t Exert Yourself during Your Stretches
Being flexible is great, but you don’t want to push yourself too far during your stretches. You should always strive for that “just right” feeling when doing a stretch so that you are not in pain or at risk of injuring the muscle further. If it hurts while stretching, back off until you can find a more comfortable position.
Don’t Bounce Around
Bouncing while stretching is a common mistake beginners make quite often. Bouncing is very punishing, as it leads to a jerky stretch that can cause tiny tears in the muscle which can lead to cramps and injuries. To get more flexibility, you’ll want your muscles to be warm and limber so don’t rush things by bouncing for better results.
Don’t Hold an Intensive Stretch too Long
When you hold an intensive stretch for too long, your muscles can become fatigued due to a lack of oxygen. Then, they won’t be able to return to their normal length. This leads the muscle fibers to shorten because of cellular changes that happen when the muscle is stressed or damaged. As such, it’s best not to hold intensive stretches more than 15 seconds before releasing tension and taking a break.
Don’t Stretch When You are Exhausted or Tired
Stretching when tired can lead to injury due to the lack of concentration and attention you have towards your movements. If you are feeling extremely exhausted, it’s best not to stretch at all until you get some much-needed rest in order for muscles that may be tight or broken down to heal properly.
Don’t Stretch When You are Sick
It’s best not to stretch if you have a fever, cold, headache, earache, sprains and even stomach problems such as diarrhea. This is because the body’s immune system needs all of its energy just to fight off whatever illness that has happened. When you stretch, it is too much of a demand on the body and can cause problems like tearing or further damage to joints that are already inflamed or abraded.
Stretching and Chiropractic Care: A Match Made in Heaven
Stretching is an important part of any chiropractic care program, and the two often coincide. In fact, you can think of chiropractic adjustments and techniques as just advanced stretching and both are beneficial to your overall health. The two programs often help coordinate and align much of the same areas in your body.
Chiropractic care can also help keep the body’s structure in alignment which creates greater mobility and flexibility when it comes to stretching. This allows for better circulation, metabolism, range of motion in joints and less tension overall in muscles across the entire body.
How Stretching Helps Your Chiropractic Adjustments
Consider just the spine for just a moment. It’s a major area that stretching and chiropractic care can benefit. And while you may go once a week or every two weeks to your chiropractor for regular spine adjustments, stretching helps to retain your posture and alignment in between these sessions.
The combination of stretching and chiropractic care often leads to greater flexibility, less pain and even a reduction of chronic back problems. This is due to the fact that both methods are important for your overall health by working together in order to maintain the progress of your adjustments and properly treat you.
Regular chiropractic care and stretching can help alleviate:
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Shoulder pain
- Knee pain
- Ankle pain
- Sports injuries
There are many benefits to stretching, but it’s important not to overdo your stretches. If you’re in pain while doing the stretches or they cause cramps, stop immediately and find a more comfortable position. You shouldn’t hold intense stretches for longer than 15 seconds either; this can lead to fatigue which will make you more susceptible to injury when stretched too much.
Let Healing Hands Chiropractic Get You on the Right Track!
At Healing Hands Chiropractic, we have a few recommendations for anyone looking to improve their stretches. While you can always go online and find different exercises, it’s best to consult with your chiropractor first so they can give you personalized advice based on the condition of your muscles. Even if you don’t have any direct injuries or muscle problems, at least speak with them about how you can improve your stretching routine so you’re doing it in the safest and most effective way possible.
When done correctly, chiropractic care and stretches are a powerful combination that can help alleviate pain and tension throughout the body. You can speak with us today at 615-203-3505 to learn more about how we can help get you on the right track!