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Benefits of focusing on flexibility



Let’s be honest, most of us don’t dedicate time during our workouts to stretching to promote recovery and maintain flexibility.


While we often “forget” to stretch, activities that lengthen and stretch muscles can help you prevent injuries, back pain, and balance problems.


A well-stretched muscle more easily achieves its full range of motion. This improves athletic performance — imagine an easier, less restricted golf swing or tennis serve — and functional abilities, such as reaching, bending, or stooping during daily tasks. Stretching can also be a great way to get you moving in the morning or a way to relax after a long day. Activities such as yoga combine stretching and relaxation and also improve balance, a wonderful combination.


It is important to note however, that experts no longer recommend stretching before exercise. Newer recommendations suggest that you start your workout routine with a warm-up, such as an easy walk or a sport-specific routine, such as serving some tennis balls and practicing ground strokes before a match. This gets blood and oxygen flowing to your muscles. After five to 10 minutes of warm-up, your muscles are warm and supple. This is called dynamic stretching.


To do a dynamic stretching routine, look to the movements you're preparing for in whatever exercise or sport you're performing. For example, runners may do hip circles, lunges, and leg pendulums. Swimmers may do shoulder rolls and arm circles.


Once you have warmed up, you can safely start your workout. Once you have finished your workout, you can take 10 minutes to do more traditional stretches which target the muscles you have used during your workout. Additionally, it is beneficial to promote Myofascial Release with some rolling. Foam rolling is a type of myofascial release that targets the fascia, a connective tissue, to increase flexibility and relieve tension. You can use foam rollers on muscles on your legs, arms, and back. For example, to roll your calf, start in a sitting position with the foam roller under your calf. Then move your lower leg back and forth over the roller for 30 to 60 seconds.


Stretching regularly improves flexibility, which is crucial for joint health and overall well-being. Stretching daily will improve your flexibility, whether it's with static stretching, dynamic stretching, foam rolling, or a combination of all three. Additionally, stretching multiple times a day, particularly if sitting a lot for work, can be beneficial and help you avoid injury.


If you would like some more information on stretches that can benefit you and your workouts, come and ask our friendly team and PTs anytime.

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