To stretch or not to stretch?
Use your BRAIN principle (Benefits Risks Alternatives Intuition Nothing)
Stretching maintains the physiological muscle length, keeps the fascia elastic and reduces the possibility of cramps, making you feel more balanced. Don’t stretch at random, seek advice on which areas are most important for you.
Stretching while the body is ‘cold’, such as before a work-out, can reduce the natural elasticity and springiness of muscles and increases your risk of injury. Use dynamic stretching such as jumping instead. Stretch each area for at least 40 seconds to be effective and don’t worry about overstretching.
If you are hypermobile you might feel bored with certain stretches when others may be screaming out in pain. However, certain areas such as between the shoulder blades, tend to be in need of some stretching in everyone.
Consider using a foam roller, spikey, golf or tennis ball as an efficient, cheap and easy stretching tool. Using these doesn’t just stretch your muscle, it also helps promote blood circulation. Certain areas such as your hip flexors may be difficult to reach. Practicing yoga is a great way to stretch entire groups rather than isolated muscles!
Hot and cold showers are a fantastic way to boost circulation, add magnesium supplements to reduce the recurrence of cramps.
Stretching and exercising every day should keep your manual therapist away! However, osteopathy and physiotherapy can help improve joint mobility which cannot be targeted by stretching alone. You may find certain yoga positions become a lot easier to reach than before!
Follow your instinct: how do you feel without stretching? What is it like after stretching? While you might feel a slight discomfort during the stretch, you should feel awake, lighter and more mobile afterwards.
Well, if you are doing nothing, nothing is likely to happen. Why don’t you try stretching today and prevent cramps, muscles aches and pains?