When (And Why) to Stretch Your Muscles

When (And Why) to Stretch Your Muscles

When you think of stretching, do you automatically think of a warm-up before a long run or a quick five minutes after a workout? Although you aren’t wrong, stretching is so much more than just that. In fact, stretching is so important to your muscles that it really should be done every day.

Dr. Mark Conliffe is an expert in physical medicine — which is a noninvasive approach to treating your muscles and body. Our team at Commonwealth Musculoskeletal Medicine not only provides stretching exercises after an injury, but also uses this practice to help you prevent further injuries down the road.

When should you be stretching?

The truth is, you don’t have to be an athlete to stretch your muscles. If you sit at a desk all day at work, your muscles are most likely tight and in need of a little flexibility. So when is a good time for you to stretch?

You should always stretch when your muscles are warmed up, whether that’s after a quick five-minute jog or a brisk walk. Stretching tight muscles may lead to injury. The warmer and more supple your muscles are, the better your range of motion. 

You want to make sure to do a light stretch before your actual workout and after it as well. Many times, you might skip your post-workout stretch because you think you don’t need it. However, stretching afterward helps to keep your muscles flexible after working so hard.

The bottom line is that you want to stretch often, to increase the blood flow to your muscles, and the most appropriate time to stretch is when your muscles are properly warmed up.

Why stretching is so important

Stretching out your muscles, whether you’re active or not, is important for a strong and healthy musculoskeletal system. Your muscles are vital in your ability to do so many activities like running and walking, so taking care of them is an important step.

Without stretching, your muscles become rigid and begin to shorten. This makes it harder for you to move when you need to and puts your body at risk for injury. Tight muscles also cause pain in your joints and muscle strains.

However, when you stretch your muscles regularly, they stay supple and long, which increases their flexibility. This allows for sudden movements to occur without injury or damage to the muscle from it being too tight.

Now that you know when you should be stretching and why it’s so important to your body, you want to know the benefits, right? Though some of the reasons this practice is beneficial may be obvious, others might take you by surprise.

Your body needs stretching for so many different reasons, but here are a few of the best advantages you’ll see when you stretch regularly:

Stretching is also extremely beneficial if you’re an athlete. Not only do you get the other benefits, but you’ll also perform better in your sport when your muscles are properly stretched.

Tips for safe stretching

If you aren’t used to stretching, speak to Dr. Conliffe before starting your regimen to avoid injury. He suggests several tips to make sure you stretch safely, including:

Dr. Conliffe may also give you specific stretches if you’re an athlete that are tailored to the sport you play. This keeps the main muscle groups you use loose so that you don’t hurt yourself during a game. 

When you’re ready to learn more about stretching and proper techniques, call our office today at 502-771-1012, or book an appointment online with Dr. Conliffe using our booking tool.

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