Is stretching necessary?

Active Stretching

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”1321″ img_size=”large” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]I’m sure traditionally, everybody has been told numerous times to stretch before and after exercises, or in the morning before you get going or at night before you go to bed. And, I do get a lot of patients coming in and saying that, “I know I should do my stretches, and I don’t stretch enough.” But is stretching really necessary? Yes and No.

Growing up, I’ve always been able to bend myself backwards, or in half, rotate my joints to 360°, and anything you name it, I can do it. And no I’m not a gymnast; I just have hyper flexible joints! And right now, just because our world has been taken over so much by emoji’s, I bet every single one of you have already expressed in a million emoji’s to what they’ve just read above! LOL…

With flexibility comes a lot of mobility, so do I need to stretch when I’m that mobile? The answer is no, because I can bend in half and not be able to feel the stretch. I have learnt that for myself when I started going to crossfit. While a lot of people have really tight muscles and reduced range of movements, the mobility drills we do just before we start on our weights and our WODs (workout of the day), would benefit a lot of people, however, I have found that I injure myself easy, as when I stretch or perform those mobility drills, my muscles and joints become too lax to support me and I hurt myself easier by spraining my joints.

Enough of me, and let’s talk about technicality and fancy terms…

So do all of us need to stretch? No. If you were someone that struggles to touch your toes or have difficulty squatting at the gym, then stretching would be necessary for you to achieve that range of movement. However, if you have already got that flexibility, and you struggle to do movements like back squats, deadlifts – putting it in day-to-day life, bending and lifting something, reaching or lunging, then you may need to improve on your mobility!

So what’s the difference between flexibility and mobility?

Flexibility is your joints ability to go through range as far as it is structurally capable – this is your passive range of movement, and to determine that, someone like a physiotherapist is able to do that for you, while you are in a relaxed position and they simply just lift your arm up as far as your joint can go, for example. And, mobility is simply how far you can move that arm actively by yourself.

So while your joints may have the flexibility, it is quite possible to lack mobility. Or if your joints are not flexible, then you may lack both of them. This is when stretching comes into play, and it will definitely give you that extra movement before your exercises or even doing activities of your daily living.

As for me, when I have both flexibility and mobility, stretching and mobility drills don’t quite work for me, as after doing them, I can’t lift heavier weights and have no control, as I have stretched out all my muscles till they are relaxed, so they don’t protect me! Therefore, I use a simple yet precious piece of resistance band to activate my muscles, whether it be doing clamshells, shoulder internal and external rotations, and so on; so that I have that muscle contraction and activation to support my joints to be able to perform my weight lifts and have the control through my movements.

To make it sound less complicated, everybody is very different in terms of their body composition, structure, joints and muscle contractility. While something works really well for a group of people, it may not work at all for another. Whether you’re someone who’s very flexible or very tight and have no mobility, there’s always something that can be catered to you to enhance or improve the quality of your movements without getting injured, may it be at the gym, at work, or even doing chores at home.

So come and see us here at Enhance Physiotherapy, we have abundance of stretches, mobility drills and even muscle activation drills to help you with all your needs!

Simmi xxx

Simmi works full time at our Thornlie Clinic. To book an appointment with Simmi call 6161 8901 or simply book online.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Importance of an Active Warm Up

Active Stretching

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”2184″ img_size=”large” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]For many years static stretches were the go-to warm up prior to sports. It was believed that stretching before sport and exercise would prepare the body for the activity that was about to take place and reduce injuries. In the past few years, this theory has been disproved. Static stretches have been shown to have no preventative effect on the occurrence of injuries in sport.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”2185″ img_size=”large” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]There is strong evidence to show, however, that an active warm up prepares the body for more intense activity and reduces the risk of injuries. It makes sense – warming up in a way that mimics the activity you are about to perform prepares the body for what is about to happen. It improves blood flow to the muscles, providing oxygen for efficient working capability and disperses byproducts such as carbon dioxide and lactic acid. It increases the internal temperature of the muscles, allowing them to perform more effectively- especially important in the cold winter months. It is important that your warm up includes sport or exercise specific moves, targeting the exact joints and muscles that are about to be used. A great example of an active warm up for soccer players is the F-MARC 11+ program- a benchmark warm up routine that has reduced injuries in soccer players by 30-50%. You can find the manual for this via google![/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”2186″ img_size=”large” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]It is important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Static stretches still have a place in improving joint and muscle flexibility, but they just don’t have so much of a role as a warm up for exercise. Stretches are fantastic to incorporate into an active cool down routine, or to use on your rest days to maintain flexibility and keep you in touch with your body. You may also be prescribed certain stretches by your Physio or health care professional to target a specific joint or muscle group and it is important to complete these as a part of your rehabilitation. The main point here- to reduce the risk of injury in exercise and sport, it is important to complete an active warm up! Remember that if you are participating in ball sports, include kicking/catching/throwing/dribbling in your warm up exercises. Some general examples are listed below, but it is important to mimic movements you are about to perform, start slowly and build intensity as your body warms up.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”2187″ img_size=”large” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]Active warm up ideas
Light jogging
Side-side bounding
Tuck jumps
Jogging step ups
Mountain Climbs
Jumping split squats
Push Up with twist
High knees
Quick lateral/backward stepping

At Enhance Physiotherapy, we can custom build a warm up routine that is specific for your sport or exercise regime. We can tailor it to aid in rehabilitation for injuries you may be recovering from, train you in specific strength requirements and help to prevent injuries you may be prone to in your field. We also offer running shoe checks, postural and functional strength assessments, taping, hands on therapy or general advice. Whatever it may be, we are here to help you get the most out of your sport and exercise!

All the best