Some people think that stretching is an unnecessary part of exercising. The truth is that stretching is a necessary component of exercise. According to physical therapists, stretching is an important part of one’s daily routine, whether you’re exercising or not.
The 5 Benefits of Stretching
- Stretching specific exercises prior to exercising helps the muscles to achieve maximum range of motion. It also helps strengthen the muscles. That is why during physical therapy stretching is a main focus.
- Stretching helps reduce muscle tension. It’s a therapeutic treatment by a physical therapist. You’ll feel the rewards of stretching during your daily routine, walking or lifting.
- Stretching enhances joint range of motion. It enables the body part to move easier. For more dynamic movement, stretching increases muscular coordination. Some physical therapy sessions focus on a muscle group instead of just one muscle for stretching.
- Another benefit of stretching is increased blood circulation. Muscles require sufficient oxygen and nutrients in order to perform well. Stretching ramps up blood flow and transports oxygen and nutrients.
- Lastly, a benefit of stretching is heightened energy levels. The increased circulation increases energy levels. Learning to stretch properly will lead you to a more active lifestyle. “According to results of a new systematic review, moderate-grade evidence seems to support strengthening and stretching exercises to help ease chronic neck pain.”
Types of Stretching Exercises in Physical Therapy
Stretching involves stretching connective tissue, a muscle or a tendon. The goal of stretching is to improve range of motion, flexibility and muscle elasticity. The five most common stretching exercises are:
- Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF)
- Low Load
Ballistic stretch physical therapy is a rapid bouncing motion to stretch a muscle. Dynamic stretching by a physical therapist entails stretching with motion at different speeds and distances. These movements are performed in a controlled and slow manner. Examples include torso swings, arms swings and leg swings. Static stretch physical therapy involved stretching the muscle and holding it for a few seconds. PNF entails holding and controlling techniques to activate specific receptors in muscles. This technique improves muscle length and decreases muscle tension. The low load stretching technique is gradual application of tension to enhance connective tissue remodeling.
A physical therapist will determine the best stretching exercises for your affected area and implement them into your treatment plan. They will also give you home exercises. These stretching exercises may include groin stretches, quadriceps stretches, knee stretches, calf stretches and more. They will also show you how do easy stretches with a towel at home. Knee stretches are very common in all age groups. That’s because knee injuries are common due to overuse or athletic injuries. Activities like running and biking can result in tight quadriceps muscles. Keep in mind that tight muscles can predispose you to injury. If so, quadriceps stretches will be implemented into a treatment plan.
Whether you see a physical therapist or not, stretching should be a part of your daily routine. You’ll feel better, perform better and avoid injury.