Keeping your muscles strong is important, but so is maintaining flexibility.
When you think about stretching you may assume that this is something that only runners or other athletes need to do, but everyone should be stretching regardless of their activity level. Stretching regularly is a great way to stave off aches and pains, especially as you get older.
The benefits of stretching
Sitting down all day can take its toll on the muscles, ligaments and other soft tissues of the body. Leading a sedentary lifestyle can cause everything from stiff backs and necks to tight hamstrings. Conversely, working out can also lead to stiff, tight muscles that could benefit from routine stretching.
In essence, regularly stretching your body can help keep muscles loose and flexible, which reduces their risk of injury. By keeping the joints and muscles in your body healthy and strong you also reduce your risk for accidents and falls. Seniors who experience joint pain and other problems could benefit from stretching.
Stretching is particularly beneficial for older adults not just because of its ability to reduce falls and accidents but also because it can improve blood flow and posture, reduce symptoms of chronic musculoskeletal pain and improve your energy.
What you should know about stretching
Don’t think that just because you stretched today that you don’t have to do it again for a while. Stretching once won’t ease all your aches and pains and immediately make you feel better (even though it can certainly provide some relief). Seeing the long-term benefits of stretching takes time. In fact, it can take weeks or even months. Of course, if you are new to stretching you want to make sure you are doing it right so you don’t injure yourself.
We would be happy to show you different stretching exercises based on your health needs and any preexisting conditions you might have. For example, those with arthritis may require different kinds of stretches then someone with chronic lower back pain. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds (do not bounce, as this could lead to injury), and remember that you shouldn’t feel pain when stretching. Yes, it is natural to feel some tightness and pressure as you stretch but pain shouldn’t occur. If it does, stop stretching and talk to us.
If you are dealing with muscle strains, sprains or other pains it’s important that you have a doctor that you can turn to for care. Our medical team can help you get the answers and treatment you need to feel better.
The information is provided to you by Dr. Joe Gorz at Neighborhood Primary Care.