As a massage therapist I see many people not only for relaxing treatments but also those in pain and with various injuries, almost always avoidable if stretching is carried out and correct posture employed. With our more sedentary lifestyles; working in offices, driving more etc. our muscles are in a constant state of tightness. When our posture is not correct muscles will be over stretched or shortened accordingly and therefore more vulnerable when we try to carry out activity without adequate stretching.

Stretching will help you to maintain optimal fitness which is not only important for your sporting performance but also critical for your overall health. When muscles are not stretched they become shortened and tight. When we then carry out an activity either an every day one or for sport they are weak and unable to fully extend all the way and are then prone to injury. Regular stretching will keep muscles flexible, strong and healthy and maintain the range of movement in the joints.

There are many ways to stretch but two of the most important ones are dynamic stretching and static stretching. Dynamic stretching prepares the muscles for exercise by warming them and decreases any stiffness in them. Examples of dynamic stretching are lunges, twists etc. They involve putting the muscle into a position that is not a full stretch. Static stretching will help to reduce injuries and should be performed after exercise. The muscles should be held in a comfortable position at full stretch for up to 30 seconds. An examples is a hamstring stretch.

Ensure to warm up for up to 5-10 minutes before stretching and ideally stretches should be carried out 3-5 times a week on a regular basis. Stretches should be gentle and not forced, this could cause injury. By using your breathing you are able to sink into the stretch more comfortably reaching optimal stretch in the muscle.

Regular stretching will :
Improve posture and overall health
Reduce stress and body aches and pains
Increase mobility and therefore delay reduced mobility associated with ageing
Improve sporting performance and recovery time
Reduce muscle soreness
Help to ease and heal existing pain
Improve blood circulation to nourish muscles and eliminate waste products

As part of any consultation for treatment I will always assess posture and ROM in muscles. I regularly advise on stretches that need to be carried out in-between treatments to obtain maximum benefit and results. One of the books I recommend and indeed many clients now use is the Brad Walker book of stretching which gives detail on how to carry out the stretch as well as the injury and sport the stretches are beneficial for. A copy is now also available in the gym. I also use Spiral Stabilisation exercises which work on improving posture and allow the muscles to work together in their spiral chains. These exercises performed with a band work all the muscles of the body and can improve scoliosis and disc related issues.

Should anyone like any other information on stretching or would be interested in booking a treatment please contact me on 07584326937 or email cheryl@longpoppy.co.uk