How to relieve Aches and Pains by Stretching Like an Expert
By Pete Schultz, PT, OCS
Do you find yourself waking up each morning stiff and in pain? Do you find the same thing happening after you workout or train? There's an easy way to get some relief. Just add some stretching to your daily routine.
But here's the trick: start small.
Once you begin to feel the benefits it'll be easier for you to keep at it. Just like any expert in their field consistently hones their skills through repetition, the same goes for stretching. Over time you really start to feel the benefits.
But why do we stretch?
The reason we stretch is because somewhere along the line we've developed a short or tight muscle. This can be caused by overuse, repetitive motions and poor posture.
When you stretch regularly, you start to make some permanent changes to your muscles. The once short muscles start to elongate. You become more flexible. And your body just feels better.
So how do you get started?
First recognize there are different types of stretches. We most frequently recommend the static stretch. So that's what we'll discuss today.
What is a static stretch?
A static stretch is the most common type of stretch. You hold the muscle in a certain position for a period of time while the body is at rest.
How long should you hold the stretch?
Usually 20-30 seconds per repetition. The tightness, or shortness, of the muscle determines how often you should stretch. At the very least you want to stretch once a day. Multiple times might be best depending on your situation.
When should you stretch?
Try some light stretching when you wake in the morning and before you go to bed at night to improve your general fitness. If you're an athlete be sure to stretch both before and after you train.
Stretching before exercise loosens your muscles so you can perform better. After you exercise your muscles are warmer, so stretching aids in making permanent changes.
Avoid over stretching
Hold where you feel the sensation of the stretch. Find a comfortable spot. Don't keep forcing. It shouldn't be uncomfortable. If you over stretch, you irritate the muscle or the tendon. This could lead to a strain or pain in the nerves.
But keep in mind the site of the pain doesn't always dictate the source. If you're feeling an unusual amount of pain see your doctor or give us a call.
- For improvements to your overall general fitness, stretching is a good idea.
- But remember permanent changes don't happen during one stretch. They happen over time.
- You need to keep working at it. It's like training.
So stretch like an expert. Start small to create a habit. Increase your frequency as you feel more comfortable. Then you can say goodbye to those aches and pains. And reach new levels of performance in your training sessions.
Not sure where to start?
Call us at the office 212.317.8303. We'll be happy to point you toward the stretches best suited to your needs.