Stretching Tips for Staying Healthy this Summer

By: Rachel Amarosa, ATC

With spring here and summer quickly approaching, people are more active and participating in more indoor or outdoor activities and events.  This article will provide information on how to stay pain free so you can keep enjoying the activities you love.  One way to prevent injury is by having a proper warm up routine before activity and cool down routine after.  These should both include 10 minutes of stretching.

In general, there are a few different types of stretching.  The real question is, which is best and when?  First, it is necessary to understand why stretching is so important.  Stretching, especially prior to a workout or athletic event, loosens your muscles and tendons to increase flexibility and range of motion.  It also promotes blood flow and circulation to the muscles and certain types of stretching can increase your body temperature.  When your muscles and body are warm from 10 minutes of a warm up/stretching routine, they work more efficiently, maximizing your performance and reducing your risk of injury.   As mentioned above, there are several different types of stretching, however, people often do some static stretching or nothing at all.  Static stretching is when you hold or sustain a position to stretch a joint or muscle, typically for up to 30 to 60 seconds.  The focus is on relaxing the area you are stretching to go further into the range of motion.  However, research has shown that static stretching can relax the body too much, causing little to no rise in body temperature, which may inhibit your muscles ability to fire.  Therefore, static stretching is a better stretching technique for after an activity (during your cool down routine) than before because it simply does not prepare your body enough.  So, what type of stretching should you do? The answer is dynamic stretching.  

Dynamic stretching uses active muscle effort and momentum to stretch muscles to the end of range without holding.  For example, walking lunges with a twist is a type of dynamic stretch that helps stretch and warm up your legs, hips, back, and core muscles. Dynamic stretching will also better prepare your body for different types of movement.  It will increase your flexibility, range of motion, and body temperature, which will greatly reduce your risk of injury.  Dynamic stretching is viewed as a proper and efficient way of both stretching and warming up.  Research shows dynamic stretching will improve the flexibility of your muscles and joints and is the most efficient way to maximize your movements and improve your performance.  

Be proactive this summer.  Prevent injury by implementing a 10 minute dynamic stretching program before activity and a static stretching routine after in order to keep doing the activities you love.  For more information about stretching or about how to get a program designed for you, please call (914) 202-0700 and ask to speak with Rachel.  

Rachel Amarosa is a certified athletic trainer at ProClinix Sports Physical Therapy & Chiropractic in Armonk, Pleasantville, and Ardsley.  

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