Stretching: Not just for athletes!
Posted by Kimber Harding
July 31, 2017
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Written by Megan Tucker, Health Educator
As we gear up
for Summer Corporate games it’s a good reminder to not forget to stretch both
before AND after our games to prevent injuries so we can continue having fun
(and win a medal or two)! But even if you aren't participating in Corporate Games or doing other strenuous activities, should you not worry about stretching daily? Definitely not.
is sometimes considered an afterthought after an intense workout or competitive
sport, but it is something we should all do daily to help our
mobility and independence. Stretching helps to
increase our range of motion and extensibility of our muscles.
our muscles flexible, strong, and healthy. Without it, our muscles shorten and
become tight. Then, when we do engage in a more strenuous activity, those tight
muscles are unable to extend all the way, which puts us at risk for joint pain,
strains, and muscle damage. For those of us who work a more seated and
sedentary job, stretching is even more important!
What is the best way to
- Rethink your Warmup: When we think of warming
up, we typically think of stretching first THEN doing some light activity like
walking. Research has shown that we
need to rethink our routine because stretching the muscles before they are warmed
up can actually be harmful and put us at more risk for injury. So, before you
stretch, do a few minutes of light activity, such as walking. This will get
blood flow to the muscles and make them more flexible.
- Take it Slow: Always stretch slow and
smooth into the desired position, to your own comfort
level, without experiencing any pain. The more you stretch, the easier it will
become. You will
probably feel tension during a stretch, but you should not feel pain. If you
do, stop stretching that muscle, and talk to your doctor. Here are some tips
for safe stretching provided by the American Heart
- Breathe & Hold: Relax and
breathe normally while stretching. Then stretch while pushing the breath slowly
out your mouth. Count to 10 slowly or time yourself for 10-30 seconds. Be sure to repeat each stretch 3-5 times. Breathe
normally during the stretch. A stretch should always be smooth and slow, never
jerky or bouncy. This can cause muscles to tighten and may result in injuries. Don't forget to keep your joints slightly bent, never "locked" in a straight position.
As you become more flexible, try reaching farther in each
exercise. A mild pulling feeling during a stretch is normal but don’t aim for
pain. Sharp or stabbing pain or joint pain means you should stop, you're
stretching too far!
To prevent major
injuries, try to make stretching a habit, and notice the difference in how you
feel and how you perform your daily activities. Even if you aren’t planning on
a more intense activity like 3 on 3 basketball or a 5K, stretching daily can go along way
in improving your mobility. You can find a variety of stretching routines to
meet your needs online or try out a rec center class that focuses on
flexibility (discounted passes for employees and their families!).
Here are a
few to get you started:
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