Stretching Basics

Stretching is probably the most common form of home care exercise prescribed by RMTs to their clients. Here are some general guidelines for your stretching program.

There are several broad categories of stretching exercises. Each category has its own protocol for the application and intended goal for doing the stretch. The guidelines which I have briefly outlined apply to a category of stretches called static stretching. Other terms that you may have heard and may be used interchangeably with static stretches are sustained, maintained, or prolonged stretching.

 

Static stretching is popular and well accepted as an effective form of stretching to increase flexibility.

 

Warm up before stretching using heat or movement Stretching muscles when they're cold increases your risk of injury to muscle tissue

 

Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds It takes time to lengthen tissues safely. Hold your stretches for at least 30 seconds — and up to 60 seconds for a really tight muscle

 

Don't bounce Bouncing as you stretch can cause injury to muscle tissue

 

Focus on a pain-free stretch If you feel pain as you stretch, you've gone too far. Back off to the point where you don't feel any pain, then hold the stretch

 

Relax and breathe freely Don't hold your breath while you're stretching

 

Stretch both sides Make sure your joint range of motion is close to equal on each side of your body

 

Stretching is a general term used to describe any therapeutic maneuver designed to improve flexibility by lengthening soft tissue structures, primarily muscle, which have shortened and have lost their mobility over time. Just as strength and endurance exercises are essential to improving muscle performance (healthy or impaired) or prevent injury, when restricted mobility causes adverse effects and increases the risk of injury, stretching becomes an important part of an individual’s rehabilitation program.

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