Here at AFM Healthcare, your health and well being are our top priority. We are here to serve all your health needs for you to live the best life you can live! In this blog, we want to guide you through 6 stretching tips that will make everyday living easier, working out safer, and help your body function the way it’s supposed to. Stretching is an aspect of health that is generally overlooked, yet it is crucial to keep your body limber and feeling good which is important to enjoy those sunny Oviedo and Winter Park days! Let’s get started.
PRACTICE DYNAMIC AND STATIC STRETCHING
Dynamic stretching includes active, energetic, or vigorous stretching. These types of stretches include high kicks, lunges, or anything that involves physical motion. These stretches are best to do before any physical activity like working out or plating a sport. Dynamic movements help you:
- Stimulate reflexes in your tendons and muscles
- Increase heart rate
- Target several muscle groups at once
- Prepare mentally and physically for your activity
We recommend performing dynamic stretches before your activity because this helps you warm up your muscles a lot more effectively than static stretching. This is because vigorous movement gets the heart pumping, letting more blood pump through your muscles, getting you properly prepared for what’s to come.
Static stretching is stationary, very light stretching that is meant to help with the cool down process after your workout or whatever activity you were just involved in. Static stretches you can practice include side bends, hamstring stretches, and shoulder stretches. We recommend performing static stretches after your activity for several reasons:
- Slows heart rate down after activity reintegrating a resting state
- Targets one muscle group at a time
- Helps loosen muscles
- Helps relieve lactic acid
Static stretching generally feels better after your activity because your muscles are already warm. Static stretching when you haven’t warmed up is potentially dangerous because it can cause injuries, such as strains. One could compare it to trying to stretch a rubber band after it’s been in the cold for a while. Dynamic stretching is better for warming up because it is a gradual process of activity and blood flow instead of getting straight into a 30-second, targeted stretch on one muscle.
DO NOT PRACTICE BALLISTIC STRETCHING
When you watch professional athletes warm-up for games, you might see them practice ballistic stretching. Ballistic stretching is an intense method that uses bouncing movements to push your body beyond its comfortable range of motion. It is easy to turn static stretches into ballistic stretches and often get confused with dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching doesn’t push your muscles past the limit that they normally do. We recommend dynamic stretches over ballistic stretches.
Athletes perform these stretches in order to throw or kick with more force or jump higher, for example. But, professional athletes’ bodies are constantly going through rigorous training, while for an average person, ballistic stretching can be very dangerous. This form of stretching can cause strains and can even cause damage to ligaments and tendons.
This was mentioned briefly earlier, but when you do start stretching, it is always a smart idea to start with small motions to ease your muscles into more vigorous movements. We recommend finding a muscle in your body that feels the tightest or most uncomfortable and then work from there. Start with small movements around that muscle group until you feel more comfortable with more dynamic movements. Once again, we recommend starting with dynamic stretching to help with the warm-up process as well.
The amount of flexibility that you need is specific to your body and the movements that you need for your everyday life. Always listen to your body and act accordingly when it comes to stretching.
DON’T WORRY ABOUT GETTING ON THE FLOOR
It is a common misconception that in order to get a good stretch in, you have to get on the floor. This isn’t necessarily true. There are plenty of stretches that you can do standing up, including versions of “floor stretches.” When it comes to dynamic stretches, there are a few stretches that require you to go on the ground, but for the most part, you should be on your feet.
On the other hand, for static stretches, there are a lot more stretches that can be practiced while on the floor. It is easier to perform these floor stretches with the help of a chair and a wall. These will help with balance and leverage to help you get the best stretch. It is also smart to stay standing after a work-out to provide the best blood flow throughout the body. Standing and stretching can only help with this process.
STRETCHING YOUR HIPS AND HAMSTRINGS CAN HELP WITH BACK PAIN
Your legs and hips have a strong relationship with your back and if you have back pain, one potential solution to ease back pain is to stretch your hamstrings and hips. There are a lot of causes for back pain and a lot of different remedies. We’ll list a few stretches you can practice that may help ease your back pain:
- Knee to chest – Lay on your back and bring your knee to your chest
- Trunk rotation – Lay on your back with your arms extended to the sides, bring your knees up like you’re sitting in a chair, and then twist your legs while keeping your torso stationary.
- Flexion rotation – Lie on your right side with both legs straight, bend your left leg and then hook your foot behind your right knee. Grab your left knee with your right arm, place your left hand behind your neck, and then slowly rotate your upper body backward by touching your left shoulder blade to the ground. Do this on your other side as well.
In short, make sure to try to stretch your hips and hamstrings if you have back pain. It may help ease your pain.
STRETCH AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
Stretching at least once a day has plenty of benefits that can provide you with a more comfortable lifestyle. Those benefits include:
- Decreases muscle stiffness and increases range of motion – This was discussed earlier but stretching loosens up your muscles and can make moving in general easier
- Can improve posture – Stretching those lower back, shoulders, and chest muscles can give you better posture
- Can help reduce stress – Stretching releases tension in your muscles which can help remove stress
- Promotes circulation – Stretching increases blood flow throughout your body and helps improve circulation
- Can help with muscle tone – Stretching still takes effort from your muscles, yoga is another option that combines a nice workout with stretching
If you have any questions or concerns and are around the Oviedo, Florida area, contact us today! We can schedule appointments from 8:30 a.m. – noon on Thursdays, but only at our Oviedo location. We also can schedule appointments Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – noon with evening appointments available till 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursdays at our Winter Park location.