Alternative Therapy Newcastle – Stretching
We offer Alternative Therapy Newcastle and today I want to talk to you about the importance of stretching
IS THERE ANY POINT IN STRETCHING?
As a massage therapist, I often give advice to my clients to stretch tight muscles between treatments. This enables them to capitalise on the benefits of the massage and to accelerate and aid recovery.
Reactions to this advice vary. Some will take the advice very seriously and religiously carry out a stretching regime to the letter.
However, the most usual reaction is to start the stretching regime with very positive intentions. But life gets in the way a bit. Of course, as they start feeling so much better, the impetus to lie on the floor and pull limbs in various seemingly unnatural directions, wanes.
It’s only when the niggles start creeping back in again that they think ‘’Perhaps I really should do those stretches!’’
ALTERNATIVE THERAPY NEWCASTLE – WHAT ARE THE BENEFTIS OF STRETCHING
But there’s always a few that are a bit cynical about the benefits of stretching. Perhaps they have done a yoga class in the past and they’ve strained something. Or dare I say it, the class was a bit ‘woo-woo’!
But flexibility is a fundamental requirement of fitness along with stamina from cardio exercise and strength for weight bearing exercise. And the bottom line is, if you don’t actively try to at least maintain a reasonable level of flexibility, you’ll find simple acts in daily life increasingly difficult. I for one, don’t want to be helped to put my socks on!
And whilst it seems that a stretching program isn’t particularly beneficial the older you get, the evidence is clear. A study from Japan investigated how much (if any) degrees of muscle stiffness could be reduced by a static stretching program in both younger and older men.
20 younger (21–24 year olds) and 20 older (62–83 year olds) men were asked to practice a static ankle flexion. Stretch to see if it released tightness in the calf and improved the range of movement in the ankle.
They were asked to hold a stretch of the ankle for 90 second. Following this to repeat it 5 times. The range of the ankle movement was measured before and after the stretching. In addition the tightness in the calf muscle was measured.
The older men were found to have greater muscle tightness and less range of movement in the ankle before the stretching began. But stretching significantly improved the range of movement for both groups.
The bottom line is that stretching can reduce muscle stiffness regardless of age. However, the stretching effect on muscle stiffness in older men is suggested to be limited compared with younger men. This is because older men cannot stretch their muscles sufficiently.
ALTERNATIVE THERAPY NEWCASTLE – 5 OF MY FAVOURITE STRETCHES
Quads – Lying on your right side, legs straight, reach behind you with your left hand and grab your left ankle. Pull the left foot towards your bottom and hold for 20 secs, release then repeat.
You should feel the stretch up the front of the leg. Repeat on the other side. If it’s tricky to reach your foot, loop a dressing gown cord around the ankle to extend your reach.
Hamstrings – Lie flat on your back with your knees bent. Loop a dressing gown cord under the instep of the left foot, straighten the leg and elevate it. Do this until you feel a stretch up the back of the leg. Hold for 20 seconds, release then repeat. Repeat on the right side. Make sure you keep the pelvis down on the floor.
This will make the most of the stretch for the hamstrings.
Hip Flexor – Kneel on your right knee.Put your left foot on the floor with your left knee at a 90-degree angle. Drive your right hip forward. You should feel a stretch at the front of the right hip. Hold the position for 20 seconds then repeat. Swap over to the other leg and repeat.
Chest Opener – Lie on a foam roller or a rolled up towel. The roll should be placed across the spine at the level of the bottom of the shoulder blades. Raise the arms up straight, keeping them shoulder width apart. Gently lower them above the head, hold for 20 seconds, release then hold again.
Neck Stretch – seated or standing, place the right hand on the right shoulder to anchor it. Place the left hand on the right side of the head. Very gently draw the two hands apart so that the left ear moves down towards the left shoulder. Hold for 5-10 seconds, release and repeat. Repeat on the other side.
STRETCHING CAN MAKE YOU FEEL GREAT
I hope this gives you some inspiration to try some stretching. It really can make you feel great. But always start gently until you are confident as to what your muscles can take. And, of course you can always give me a ring or email me if you need any help. Happy stretching!!
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