Did You Know Stretching Has Several Different Health Benefits?
Some people think that stretching is an unnecessary part of exercising. The truth is that doing stretches are a necessary component of exercise.
Can some simple physical motions dramatically improve your overall health, wellness, and quality of life? In the case of stretching, the answer is most definitely yes. Stretching exercises are a staple of occupational therapy for just that reason.
In fact, according to occupational therapists, stretching is an important part of one’s daily routine – whether you’re exercising or not.
The top 5 benefits of stretching
- Stretching helps reduce muscle tension. It’s a therapeutic treatment by a occupational therapist. You’ll feel the rewards of stretching during your daily routine, walking or lifting.
- Another benefit of stretching is increased blood circulation. Muscles require sufficient oxygen and nutrients in order to perform well. Stretching ramps up blood flow and transports oxygen and nutrients.
- Stretching specific exercises prior to exercising helps the muscles to achieve maximum range of motion. It also helps strengthen the muscles. That is why during occupational therapy stretching is a main focus.
- Stretching enhances joint range of motion. It enables the body part to move easier. For more dynamic movement, stretching increases muscular coordination. Some occupational therapy sessions focus on a muscle group instead of just one muscle for stretching.
- Lastly, a benefit of stretching is heightened energy levels. The increased circulation increases energy levels. Learning to stretch properly will lead you to a more active lifestyle. “According to results of a new systematic review, moderate-grade evidence seems to support strengthening and stretching exercises to help ease chronic neck pain.”
Combining stretching and OT
It’s important to make sure you’re doing the right kind of stretches before and after your workout. An occupational therapist can put together an exercise routine for your specific type of workout.
Whether you’re playing a game of tennis, training for a mini-marathon, or walking through the neighborhood, occupational therapy can help you make the most of your activities. An occupational therapist can guide you regarding which types of stretches are the best for your current physical condition and the type of activities you’re participating in.
It’s also important to make sure you’re doing the right exercises in the correct way. You’ll want to make an appointment with a qualified occupational therapist to learn what stretches are right for you. Occupational therapy can help you make the most of your workouts and improve your overall health.
Stretches and improved mobility
It’s quite common for an occupational therapist to prescribe various stretching exercises to individuals suffering from chronic pain conditions. Stretching takes on special importance when you’ve become less mobile due to issues such as osteoarthritis. The less you move your joints, the greater the likelihood that your muscles and connective tissues will lose some of their length.
This change obviously limits your joint motion even further and leaves you in even more pain. Stretches naturally support occupational therapy recommendations such as walking, heat therapy, or massage therapy in increasing blood flow to painful joints and widening your pain-free range of motion.
Chronic pain syndromes often involve tight muscles. Syndromes such as fibromyalgia and its cousin, myofascial pain syndrome, cause muscle knots that limit muscle motion and trigger referred pain to other parts of the body. Regular stretching can help you “untie those” painful knots.
So, what are the different types of stretching?
Stretching involves stretching connective tissue, a muscle or a tendon. The goal of stretching is to improve range of motion, flexibility and muscle elasticity. The five most common stretching exercises are:
- Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF)
- Low Load
Ballistic stretch occupational therapy is a rapid bouncing motion to stretch a muscle. Dynamic stretching by an occupational therapist entails stretching with motion at different speeds and distances.
These movements are performed in a controlled and slow manner. Examples include torso swings, arms swings and leg swings. Static stretch occupational therapy involved stretching the muscle and holding it for a few seconds.
PNF entails holding and controlling techniques to activate specific receptors in muscles. This technique improves muscle length and decreases muscle tension. The low load stretching technique is gradual application of tension to enhance connective tissue remodeling.
An occupational therapist will determine the best stretching exercises for your affected area and implement them into your treatment plan. They will also give you home exercises.
These stretching exercises may include groin stretches, quadriceps stretches, knee stretches, calf stretches and more. They will also show you how to do easy stretches with a towel at home. Knee stretches are very common in all age groups. That’s because knee injuries are common due to overuse or athletic injuries.
Activities like running and biking can result in tight quadriceps muscles. Keep in mind that tight muscles can predispose you to injury. If so, quadriceps stretches will be implemented into a treatment plan.
Looking for more assistance getting started? We can help
Whether you see an occupational therapist or not, stretching should be a part of your daily routine. You’ll feel better, perform better, and avoid injury. Contact us today to learn more!