After a long period of inactivity, especially after getting up from our sleep, we often stretch instinctively. But have we ever thought is it a right thing to do or for that matter how important it is to incorporate stretching in our everyday life as part of our exercise routine? As our body ages, our muscles and joints become stiff owing to lack of flexibility. And this further leads to poor posture causing several problems related to the spine, lower back, chest, and shoulders.
Doctors dealing with several stretch related issues say that a lack of flexibility makes a person more susceptible to muscle strains or other soft tissue injuries, thus hindering our day-to-day activities.
They say that stretching increases the blood flow to the muscles and thus reduce the muscle soreness.
But while we know the importance of stretching, do we know what the right way to do it is? There are several conflicting theories on stretching techniques and most people often do it incorrectly.
Recently two researchers, who reviewed about 20 years worth of stretching research published the results in the academic journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. They focused on the right ways of stretching and their report makes us rethink on everything that we knew about stretching.
According to David Behm, a research professor at the Memorial University of Newfoundland’s School of Human Kinetics and Recreation in Canada, “Non-stretchers get tight muscles, causing pain, bad posture, and even less flexibility than you started with which only gets worse as you age”.
Highlighting on the stretches that we do involuntarily most of the time on waking up, David Behm says that it is not good for our muscles as in the morning, our muscles are the stiffest owing to being inactive for hours and your body temperature drops when you sleep.
On similar note, Dr Mahmood Shehabullah, a sports medicine specialist in Oman, says that stretching is a must for all sorts of exercise. It stabilises the body’s natural balance and posture and aligns the joints leading to better coordination. “For stretching age is no restriction. People above 70 also can stretch their muscles but one should know how far they can stretch,” he says.
“But we should keep in mind that before we stretch we must warm up and should gauge the limit as well.” Dr Mahmood warns.
Here are the few significant benefits of stretching as per Dr Mahmood.
• Brings suppleness of muscles.
• Increases flexibility.
• Prevents injuries.
• Increases blood supply to the muscles.
• Stabilises the body’s natural balance and posture.
• Aligns the joints for better coordination.
• Keeps the upper body with the lower in harmony.
• Elongates muscles specially of lower limbs in front and back of the thigh i.e. quads and hamstrings as well calf muscles which prevents cramps but the individual must be hydrated with formulated drinks.