As the weather gets warmer, the thought of being active outdoors becomes more enticing. Before you re-up your spring workouts, runs, or walks, consider adding stretching to your routine. There are many stretching myths. Among these myths is how to stretch correctly, and even when to stretch. So, let’s clear the smoke on stretching.
Myth #1: Stretch before exercise
Makes sense, right? Get your muscles loose before you jog. Wrong. Stretching before you exercise will not increase your performance; in fact it could make you more susceptible to injury.
Recommendation: Start your workout with a warm-up. This could be a brisk walk, cycling, etc., anything to get your blood circulating into your muscles faster. This will lessen your chance or injury.
Myth #2: Cool down before you stretch
Many people believe that they need to allow their body to cool down and rest after their workout before they incorporate stretching into their routine. This is a common misconception.
Recommendation: Stretching the muscles you just worked out immediately after the workout. This way the muscles are warm and respond better to the stretching. Your stretching routine should push the muscles beyond the range of motion in which your exercises where performed. By stretching after your workout you will not be placing your muscles under any more stress, thus giving them the time they need to rebuild and repair cells that where damaged during your workout and stretch routine.
Myth #3: Just stretching is a good exercise
Although stretching is good for you and your muscles, its best to pair it with a workout to prevent injury and to increase your performance.
Recommendation: Stretching should always be performed after your exercise. It is not meant to replace an exercise nor is it meant to be implemented in between sets. We just talked about the fact that it’s best to stretch when your muscles are warm, this is the same idea. Stretching muscles that haven’t been worked out will increase your chance of injury.
Fact #1: Massage Therapy improves flexibility
Massage therapy can improve flexibility. For any active person to improve their health or athletic performance, he or she needs a high degree of flexibility. Since massage therapy stretches the muscle fibers, flexibility is promoted and maintained. High volume or intensity training cycles and competition usually lead to increased muscle tension. The effects may include disturbances of collagen scar tissue and development of various adhesions where the muscle, fascia, and other tissues stubbornly stick together. If this happens you will experience a reduction in overall flexibility and an increased chance of injury.
Recommendation: Massage can elongate tightened muscles, help stimulate healing of adhesions, break up scar tissue, and help tight muscles relax.
Fact #2: Physical Therapy alleviates chronically tight muscles and prevents muscle injuries
Physical therapy includes stretching and exercises that address and enhance posture, range of motion, balance and flexibility. This in turn reduces your risk of injury from inflexible or tight muscles.
Recommendation: Physical therapy is necessary for injury recovery but also plays a big role in injury prevention if you have poor flexibility or chronically tight muscles.