Stretching is very important to increase flexibility and decrease the chances of getting injured. Key points when stretching is to take your time and don’t hold the stretch too long. Muscles that are not held in a stretch long enough won’t release from its contracted state. Stretching a muscle too long and other connected muscles may go into spasms. Holding stretches for about 30 seconds is a good enough time. Anything over 30 seconds at a time and you are risking the possibility of muscles going into spasms.
There are 3 main ways of stretching; Ballistic, Actively, and Passively. Ballistic stretching is when you bounce in and out of a stretch. This type is very strenuous to the muscle groups and unless you are properly educated on how to do this, most of the time if you are involved with high intense sport that involves ballistic movements such as; martial arts or track in field, stay away from this type of stretching. You can really injure the tissues very quickly.
The second type is active range of motion. In this type you are moving yourself into a stretch and holding it for time. With this type of stretch you only want to go to the point of stretch, remember to relax your breathing (don’t hold your breath), and take your time (don’t rush in it and don’t rush out of it). Make sure you create good posture before going into the stretch so that you are stretching the right muscle groups correctly. When you are out of posture and you try to stretch you could be stretching the wrong muscles. Also don’t push though the stretch in which you are grinding your teeth. This is improper stretching and abuse to the muscle fibers. At the same time other muscles are guarding when you put yourself through such a strain and this is where injuries, knots, or trigger points spawn.
The next type of stretching is passive. This type of stretching should only be performed by Physical Therapists, Licensed/Board certified massage therapists, or Doctors. This is when these professionals move your body, for you in the state of a stretch. Those who have not gain the science back ground training in the high levels of anatomy, kinesiology, and hands on experience should not be stretching you. The person without these qualifications can create damage to the muscles, golgi tendons, and other parts of the body. If a practitioner like; personal trainers, training partners, even massage therapists who are not National Board Certified (NCBTMB) and did not meet these standards, it’s safer to stretch your muscles by yourself!
At Body Solutions Inc in Voorhees, NJ, only our Physical therapists and Licensed/Board Certified Massage therapists are the ones who perform any types of stretching to the patients/clients. The massage therapists also perform other styles of stretching integrated in their medical massage treatments and in their therapeutic relaxation massages such as; Mulligan’s Technique, Shiatsu, and Active Isolated Stretching. Integrating stretching, especially these types, into medical/therapeutic massages gives great results for fast pain relief, injury recovery, and here at Body Solutions Inc, serving the Cherry Hill/Marlton area, the therapists make time in the sessions to educate how do some of the stretches yourself to induce self-care.
Stretching has great benefits to the body, such as;
- Improve flexibility
- Postural improvement
- Prevent trigger points
- Increase blood circulation
- Releases endorphins (our natural “feel good” chemical in our body)
- Decrease soreness,
- And recovers muscles from any work outs
The list goes on. Stretching the body is like flossing your teeth. We hate doing it but it’s essential to do it. As we know, flossing gets all the junk from in between the teeth, helping to prevent cavities, and keeps us away from the brutal times visiting the Dentist. Stretching elongates the muscles from being tensed, releases the “cobwebs” that surrounds the muscles and in between the muscles, called fascia, to make the muscles more moveable, keeping us away from the brutal visits to the physical therapists our medical massage therapists from having to do deep tissue or myofascial releasing treatments. Yet, some of us do enjoy that type of pain
By: Lynn Wang, LMT, NCTMB and Victor Lopez, LMT, NCTMB