We often hear about the importance of regular exercise, but stretching is just as crucial. Routine stretches can improve your joints’ range of motion, boost your athletic performance and even decrease your risk of injury.
Stretching is particularly important as you get older. As you age, your joints become less flexible. When that occurs, it can make it challenging to perform even routine tasks, like climbing a flight of stairs, taking the dog for a walk or lifting your arms above your head. Sound familiar? If so, it’s time to make an appointment with your doctor of chiropractic. Following a comprehensive exam, a review of your health history and a discussion of your symptoms, they can develop a stretching regimen that aligns with your age and current level of mobility.
Once you know what stretches to do, it’s important to practice them safely. To make the process a little easier, we’ve compiled a list of helpful tips.
1.) Stretch while firmly planted on the ground. When stretching, keep your feet or bottom planted on the ground. Bobbing on the balls of your feet or shifting your weight back and forth can make your muscles tight or stiff, increasing the risk of an injury.
2.) Hold each stretch. To notice the benefits of stretching, it’s important to take your time. Never rush through the process. Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds and breathe deeply throughout. If you have especially tight muscles in a specific area of your body, try and stretch them for at least 60 seconds.
3.) Pain is a bad sign. When stretching, you want to feel tension, not pain. If any of the stretches you do result in aches, cramps, or general discomfort, stop! Listen to your body and don’t force anything.
4.) Do stretches that compliment your daily routine. What does your day look like? Are you a weekend warrior? Or an older adult who enjoys taking walks around the park? Use your level of activity to determine which muscles are most important to stretch. If you’re a marathon runner, it’s important to stretch your hamstrings and calves. If you’re a lap swimmer, it’s important to stretch your shoulders, lats and triceps.
5.) Warm up before you stretch. It’s never a good idea to stretch cold muscles. Before you get started, take a short walk, ride the stationary bike or do some gardening. Once your blood is flowing, ease into your stretching routine.