To Stretch or Not to Stretch (and How), That is the Question – And We Answer It
It can be hard to sort out fact from fiction and what health guidelines to follow, especially when those seem to change (or even reverse) over time. Take good ol’ stretching – it used to be a given that stretching before a work out was a time-honored part of your fitness routine. Then research and articles began popping up indicating that “static” stretching was out, but “dynamic” stretching was in. Suddenly you were expected to stretch through active movement instead of that old-school and (now debunked?) standard stretch-and-hold method that you’d always relied on. So what’s the deal? Well, as with anything else there is some gray in between the black and white.
Flexibility definitely matters. It’s one thing that tends to go as we age: you just can’t move as easily or as freely as when you were young. It can also become a vicious cycle after an injury – the area is sore, or doesn’t feel like it used to, so you move it differently and lose some range of motion…leading to less flexibility and discomfort when you try, so you don’t, and so on it goes. That’s why maintaining your range-of-motion and flexibility is important and is also equated with a strong and healthy body. You don’t have to accept a limited range and less ability to move just because you have a few more numbers on the old odometer. It’s always easier to maintain something than to try and completely reverse course, but even if your movement and motion is limited, it’s never to late to improve.
When it comes to stretching, dynamic stretching can be beneficial. Yet, without proper form, you can also be at a higher risk for injury. This is one of those times that if you have less range-of-motion and your flexibility is decreased, deciding to break out a dynamic stretch routine you saw in this month’s copy of your favorite magazine could be asking for serious trouble. Static stretching may have gotten a bit of a bad rap lately, but don’t let that deter you. There are times when it is the ideal warm up before exercise and way to improve and keep your body pliable.
For instance: If you have known areas that tend to be tight and cause issues during your physical activity or sports, your physical therapist may recommend specific static stretches to do prior to your activity. They stay current on medical news, so rest assured if they’re advising you to loosen up that tight calf or stretch out that troublesome hammy before your bike ride that they know what they’re talking about. More importantly, they may also advise you to keep up with certain static stretches on off-days as well. Their stretches will be designed to target your trouble-spots and get things loose and limber and help keep those areas from tightening up to a difficult degree.
So for someone concerned about flexibility and range-of-motion, who’d like to stay active and help prevent injury, don’t take your advice from the glossy pages of a magazine. See a licensed physical therapist who can assess you and show you the best way to add a gentle stretching routine to improve your overall total body health. You also don’t have to accept that you just can’t do some things anymore; a qualified PT can help you gain strength, improve balance, and treat existing symptoms of old injuries while helping prevent new ones. Body One Physical Therapy offers a comprehensive wellness program: our Sustained Optimal Performance program (SOP). The SOP program is designed to address many of these common concerns like movement, balance, strength issues as well as overall health goals. Your trained PT will discuss all this as well as your long-term goals and how you can achieve them. While the SOP program is cash-based, you may find that it falls under your HSA’s prevention and wellness and may be eligible for distribution of payment.
You may have to grow older but you don’t have to give up things that you love just because your body isn’t 20 anymore! Body One Physical Therapy is here to help. We’ll work with you and tailor a plan to help you reach your goals and improve your fitness. We are locally-owned with five convenient locations providing excellent care to central Indiana: Downtown Indianapolis, North Indianapolis, South Indianapolis, Zionsville, and Fishers.