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Why Routine Stretching Is Good For You

HEALTH NEWS you can use- Moving Well

By: Dr. Robert Neposlan

Stretching is so simple that it’s hard to imagine it does much for your health … but studies show it is one of the best ways to relieve pain, improve your well-being and boost your health overall.

In fact, regular stretching, according to the Mayo Clinic, can:

  • Increase your flexibility, which improves your daily performance.
  • Improve your range of motion in your joints, giving you better balance and less prone to falls as you age.
  • Improve your circulation by increasing blood flow to your muscles. This helps your muscles to recover after injuries.
  • Promote better posture by keeping your muscles loose and minimizing aches and pains.
  • Prevent injuries, particularly if you have tight muscles or joints.

Maintaining proper range of motion is critical as we age. I often share the importance of this fact with patients. It is the primary goal during the acute and rehabilitative phases of chiropractic care. The reason quite simply is that joint motion stimulates nerve endings that build pathways for the delivery of the most important BRAIN nutrient for human health ever identified—mechanoreception (brain stimulation). With a loss in motion, comes a loss of mechanoreception. I explain this way to patients…the brain needs two things 1) obviously it needs food or energy (i.e. glucose) and 2) it needs to be stimulated (charged) by nerve endings called mechanoreceptors in the bodies muscles, ligaments and joints. The brain is like a car battery. It needs to be stimulated just as the battery in a car needs to be recharged by the alternator. It’s this fact that forms the basis of our third essential pillar of health, “Moving Well”.

Good Stretching Methods

Now, with respect to stretches, how you stretch is even more important than the actual stretches you do. Here are some keys to keep in mind:

  • Safety first – If you have had injuries, surgeries or have health concerns, consult with your doctor or chiropractor about how to modify the stretches.
  • Move slowly in and out of the stretches – this helps prevent injury and allows your body to relax.
  • Pay attention to your body – it will tell you how far to go. You should stretch to a point of gentle tension, but not pain.
  • Relax into the stretches – Muscles elongate naturally as they relax. If you notice some tension while holding a stretch, let it go. You may find that as you relax into the stretch, you find yourself stretching even further.
  • Breathe slowly and deeply and pay attention to your breathing. This helps you to stay relaxed.
  • Hold each stretch for about 30 seconds. It has been found that holding a stretch for 25-35 seconds gives optimal results. Rather than count the seconds, you can time your breathing to find out how many slow, deep breaths you take in 30 seconds. Then you can time your stretches by counting your breaths.
  • What is important is for the muscle to experience movement and be stretched — not how far you go! If you are following stretches outlined in a guide, book or one of our handouts, simply move in the direction of the stretch.
  • Don’t bounce! You can injure yourself this way.
  • Stretching should be pleasurable! If you are not enjoying the stretching, you may be trying too hard or straining to achieve a certain result. Stretching is not a competition, it’s simply an activity that benefits your body no matter what position you get into or how far you go.
  • Start slowly. As with all exercise programs set realistic goals. Don’t be too hard on your self and DON’T QUIT.

When to Stretch

Also note, stretching can be done any time of day. Carving out a few minutes first thing in the morning or after work will go a long way toward improving your health. Work your way up to 15-20 minutes. Joining a yoga studio (Love It Yoga 736-4500) or full service gym (Movati Athletic 736-8761) is an excellent alternative. Stretching on our WAVE machines is also an excellent option. And finally, remember little changes can lead to big health improvements over time. Start living a healthier life, commit to a small change!!

Until next week,

Move well

Dr. Rob

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