5 Reasons Why You Need to Start Stretching

stretching benefits

5 Reasons Why You Need to Start Stretching

If there’s one thing that you can count on a physiotherapist introducing into every session, it’s stretching. Yes, building strength and endurance is important. But whether you’re an athlete, or someone coping with the aches and pains of aging, increasing your flexibility through stretching is crucial. Read on to learn more about some of the top benefits of stretching and speak with an expert at NRG Athletes Physiotherapy Winnipeg, CA.

Range of Motion Improvement

How far your joints can move in all directions influences virtually every moment of the day. Arthritis or injury can hamper how far, and where, you can flex and extend your limbs and torso. From twisting your neck to see behind you when driving, to being able to move your knee freely, range of motion is crucial for both daily life and for fitness pursuits. Even if you’re fairly stiff now, doing more stretches each day will gradually reduce stiffness and increase flexibility.

Relief in Unexpected Places

When your calves start feeling a bit tight after a run, it’s obvious that more stretching is needed. But we sometimes forget the sheer interconnectedness of our bodies. If you’re experiencing lower back pain, for example, stretching your legs during physiotherapy can be as important as stretching your back. In fact, your hips, upper thighs and your hamstrings can all play a big part in creating lower back pain relief. Likewise, improving your posture through stretching your torso can provide the kind of support you need to keep your spine from compressing, which helps you avoid shoulder and neck pain.

Enhanced Performance

If you’re an athlete, you know that the more conditioning your joints, ligaments and muscles get, the greater your advantage in your sport. Bodybuilders can recover from their reps more quickly by stretching tightened muscles as a cool-down. Golfers can get a longer reach by increasing range of motion through the hips and shoulders. Swimmers can keep their strokes even by perfecting their balance through physiotherapy stretching moves. In fact, there are few competitive sports for which stretching doesn’t offer an advantage.

Injury Prevention

There’s a certain amount of debate in the sports world about the degree to which pre- or post-workout stretching protects you from injury. But few people deny those stretches can contribute to injury prevention. A tense, shortened muscle is often an injury waiting to happen because it doesn’t work at peak performance. When you stretch, you’re also increasing your range of motion, while improving your balance. All of these factors can prevent you from making the types of moves that lead to injury, whether it’s coming down too hard on one foot, or twisting your back further than you should to compensate for lack of shoulder range.

Improved Circulation

Stretching can reduce stress, but that isn’t the only reason it’s good for your heart and your musculoskeletal system. Tight muscles constrict available oxygen supply, essentially robbing themselves of the nutrients they need. Stretches help reverse the process. You’ll also get the benefit of increased blood flow to your joints and throughout the body. Your physiotherapist knows that good circulation is key to every aspect of health, from sharp thinking to clear skin.

Of course, there are plenty of other ways that stretching can improve your life. Many people enter a Zen-like state as they stretch. Others get a sense of pride from being more limber. When you’re ready to add stretches to your daily routine, consider getting started through physiotherapy. Our team can walk you through the best ways to tackle your situation. Static or dynamic stretching? Pre- or post-activity stretching? A physiotherapist can help you learn the basics. Contact NRG Athletes Physiotherapy Winnipeg, CA today to learn more.

Your Comprehensive Guide to Different Types of Stretching — and Their Benefits

If you’ve ever grumbled to yourself that “stretching” is a rather vague fitness directive to get from your doctor or physiotherapist, you’re not alone. There’s definitely more than one way to stretch. Done properly, the moves you make can help you recover from an injury, or prevent future problems. But unfortunately, choosing the wrong kind of stretching can make things worse.

Of course, we’re always here to help you deal with your injury or concerns. In the meantime, an overview of some common stretching categories, and what each type entails, can be helpful.

Passive Stretching

This type of stretching certainly isn’t challenge-free, but it does allow you to give your targeted muscles some assistance. With passive stretching, you use your own hands, some furniture, or another person to help you hold the body part in place, as you relax the muscle group you’re focused on, into a slow stretch.

Passive stretching is used for easing muscle spasms and preventing soreness, and usually done in the cool-down phase after a workout.

Active Stretching

These movements are ones in which muscle groups are worked in tandem, with the injured area being relaxed, while the coordinating muscles are contracted — as with your hamstrings supporting your quads in a specific stretch.

Active stretching builds flexibility on the stretched muscles, and strength in the supporting ones. It’s useful for preventing injury, and is best done during warm up.

Dynamic Stretching

Imagine swinging your arm or leg back and forth just slightly, and fairly slowly, then gradually picking up speed and increasing the range of motion. This is how dynamic stretching works. The movements should be smooth rather than stop-and-start, and shouldn’t push past the point of mild discomfort or resistance.

Use dynamic stretching when warming up for cardio, or an intense activity like pitching, so that you’ll have greater flexibility going into the workout.  

PNF Stretching

Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching combines passive stretching with focused, isometric moves. A good example would be stretching your arm slowly upwards, then contracting your upper arm muscle for a hold of several seconds.

PNF stretching is useful for increasing range of motion when muscles have been injured, or become atrophied.

 

Still confused? Don’t worry — often, the descriptions sound more confusing than the moves actually are! While it’s important to do “the right stretch for the right job,” we understand that sometimes only a hands-on demonstration will do.

Contact NRG Athletes Therapy Fitness for a consultation today!

 

The Main Difference between Front Squats and Back Squats

Squats are a fitness staple. A fundamental skill to athletes of all different makes and sizes. Whether you are looking to build speed to help you run the bases faster or increased strength so that you can power through the opposition as you charge down the field, squats are a great exercise to help you build the base power you need to be successful. During physiotherapy, working with advanced weight training techniques like this can help you continue to build strength as you recover from injury and work to build your muscles.

In fact, the strong fundamental power and impressive tone that squats provide make them a favorite outside of the athletic field, as well. Whether you are a gym rat or someone who is just desperately trying to get or stay in shape with any spare moment they have, squats can help you achieve the results you are looking for.

However, squats can pose just as much of a threat as they can be helpful in your quest to reach your fitness goals. If you are squatting the wrong way, then you could easily expose yourself to an increased risk of injury.

There are two different types of squats, front squats and back squats, and knowing the proper technique for both types of this exercise is important if you plan on getting a great workout in without increasing your risk for injury.

The Techniques

Front squats and back squats are the same exercise at their heart, but work out different parts of the body and so require slightly different techniques.  Both techniques are done with the use of a barbell, and with either, it is important that you make sure you are careful with how much weight you attempt to lift. Overdoing it by attempting to lift too much weight can leave you in severe pain. The best thing to do is to start with a low weight and gradually increase until you find a weight that you are comfortable working with.

To do a front squat you want to begin with both feet planted firmly on the ground, shoulder with apart, and have the barbell in front of you. Hold the bar even with your shoulders, and maintain a strong grip on the bar as well. Keeping your back straight, lower your body until your butt is even with your knees, and then slowly rise back up.

A back squat is done the exact same way, except the bar should be held behind the body instead of in front. Be especially careful with a back squat not to allow the bar to rest near your neck. Your grip on the bar should be predominantly what holds it up.

Practicing proper technique is absolutely essential to prevent yourself from experiencing injury during your workout. Squats are a great exercise, but if you attempt to do them without knowing proper form then you could find yourself experiencing back pain.

Call NRG Athletes Therapy Fitness today and speak with our experts physiotherapists.

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