Are you feeling tense, tight or stiff in the mornings? Stretching may be your answer. Stretching has a range of physiological and psychological benefits and has been used to promote good health for thousands of years. Over the years you may have performed stretching as part of a warmup or cool down or even as a standalone activity to help encourage flexibility, mobility and general well-being.
What is the difference between static and dynamic stretching?
– Static stretching involves holding a stretch for a longer period of time, typically between 15sec- 1min. This stretching usually targets one muscle or muscle group. This stretching is usually done after a workout or physical activity and helps to promote muscle flexibility.
– Dynamic stretching is typically done prior to physical activity to increase blood flow to the targeted muscles. It involves moving the body through a controlled movement which may mimic the way in which it will be used during the activity.
Benefits of stretching:
Improved muscle extensibility: regular stretching helps to increase extensibility- the ability to lengthen the muscle without causing injury or discomfort. When muscles have good extensibility, it allows them to elongate further, providing greater range of motion in the associated joints.
Injury prevention: Improving muscle extensibility reduces the risk of muscle strains, tears, and other soft tissue injuries. It helps to stretch out muscular imbalance which may lead to overuse injuries in the future.
Improved posture: Tight muscles can contribute to postural issues. For example, having tight pectoralis (chest) muscles can cause rounding of the shoulders. Regular stretching can help lengthen and loosen these tight muscles which in turn allows the body to have better posture.
Enhanced sporting performance: When the muscles are in their ideal lengthened state, it allows the muscles to create more force and power during physical activity as the muscle fibers can contract optimally and more efficiently.
Improved coordination: Stretching helps improve coordination in a range of different ways. When stretching our mind and body connection is enhanced and with regular stretching the mind body connection is strengthened.
How can I incorporate stretching into my life?
There is a wide range of different ways in which you can include stretching to become part of your routine. Firstly, figuring out your personal goals for when stretching would be best for you. Are you trying to target one specific muscle or muscle group or are you warming up before a run?
Determining your goals will help you to figure out when/ how you stretch your muscles. CSSM runs multiple Pilates Stretch classes throughout the work week and weekend guided by health professionals. Whether you are a beginner stretcher or stretch like a pro, the instructor will be able to target the stretches to exactly what you need, including working around injuries.
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Samson M, Button DC, Chaouachi A, Behm DG. Effects of dynamic and static stretching within general and activity specific warm-up protocols. J Sports Sci Med. 2012 Jun 1;11(2):279-85. PMID: 24149201; PMCID: PMC3737866.
About the author
CSSM Osteopath Jade Hunt was drawn to study osteopathy through her love of science, the complexity of the human body and her passion of wanting to help people.
For Jade, Osteopathy looks further than the specific site of injury and focuses on the whole person, allowing for meaningful and long lasting changes to occur.
Jade uses a range of techniques including soft tissue, manipulation and mobilisation techniques. Along with this, Jade works with patients to create management plans tailored to the individual, empowering them through education and support.
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