Flexibility and Stretching

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Transcript of Flexibility and Stretching

Flexibility and Stretching

Having flexible muscles is not just a requirement for sports people but is essential for everyone . If you look at people in their 50's or 60's who look after themselves you will notice that they move with the ease of someone half their age and they don't give the characteristic ' oohh ' or ' aagh ' when they sit or stand up . This is as a result of having good flexibility .Tight , tense muscles restrict the blood flow in and out of the muscle which reduces the supply of oxygen and nutrients and inhibits waste removal . They also restrict the movement of the joint which leads to a stiff posture .Flexibility plays an important role in both injury prevention and rehabilitation muscles that can easily allow the joint to move through its full range of motion are less likely to be torn and have more ' give ' and will allow you to change direction suddenly or reach that little bit further without damage . Stretching is used to regain flexibility in the muscles and tendons after damaging a joint .

Flexibility and SportsAll sports people know the value of static stretching but many are misinformed as to what type of stretch to do and when . To clarify ;

There are 3 different times ;

Pre exercise - to reduce the risk of injury

Post exercise - to return the muscles to pre exercise length / to re-align the fibres / to prevent the build up of lactic acid by improving the fluid flow

Flexibility training - to have an effect on the overall flexibility of the tissues

The last point is by far the the most misunderstood many people are under the impression that post event stretching will improve flexibility but , after a training session , the muscles are tired and to try to over stretch in this state only risks the muscles going into spasm in order to protect themselves . The overall effect on improving flexibility is negligible . For the most part they are stretching at the wrong time .To improve flexibility you must allocate a special session when the muscles are relaxed , preferably on a day off from training .

How to Stretch We were always told that you had to be warm before you stretched but it has recently been discovered that to effect any real change in the muscles you must stretch them when they are cold this does not mean chilly but just room temperature .

Your attitude when stretching is very important they should be done gently and slowly , in a very relaxed manner . ' Listen ' to what your muscles are saying some days they will want more , other days it's a battle go with the ' flow ' . Never try to force a muscle to stretch and all stretching should be pain free there is a physiological reason for this ( see later ) - it could be a sign of an underlying problem .

Stretches to Avoid There are stretches that are now deemed old fashioned and dangerous ;

These place too much unnecessary pressure on the spine .

Here he is stretching two joints at the same time for safety only stretch one muscle group at a time .It has recently been discovered that the lower back needs stability and not mobility so any rotary type stretching is now considered unnecessary ;

Pain During StretchingAs mentioned earlier , if you experience any pain you must stop immediately without going into unnecessary detail , the nervous system constantly monitors the muscle and , if any problem is detected , it will lock up the muscle to protect it against damage . It may be that the reason is only minor or temporary but if you experience similar pain when you next attempt it , again , stop immediately and consider visiting the therapist of your choice for an assessment .

Easy Everyday Foot StretchesThere isn't any need to take off your socks ( I have only done this for clarity ) .Follow the numbered order nos. 2 & 4 ( where you curl the toes ) will often induce a little cramp ( particularly if the feet are cold ) - if so , ease off and try again , it will usually reduce . I usually repeat the cycle a few times until it dissipates . Hold each for a few seconds repeat as many times as you feel .

1 2

3 4

Stretching for Seniors The following stretches can be done 2 or 3 times / week but to do them every day is no problem

Neck Gently lower the chin down to the chest and hold for 10 secsBring the ear over to one shoulderand hold for 10 secs repeat on theother side

Turn the chin towards one shoulderand hold for 10 secs repeat on theother side

Shoulder ShrugLift you shoulders slowly up to your ears -as you lower them , press the shouldersdown repeat 3 times

Side Bend to one side , reaching for the floor -hold for 10 secs and repeat on other sideThigh StretchMove your bottom to the edge of the chairand and hold the underside of the chair with your left hand . Slide your right footback until the knee is nearly a 90-degreeangle . If no stretch is felt , move the footfurther back and hold for 10 secs repeaton the other side

Back of Thigh StretchSit on the edge of a chair , point thetoes upwards and lean forwards -hold for 10 secs ( you can do this oneleg at a time if you prefer )

Calf StretchBend the forward knee ( but not in frontof the ankle ) and press the heel of the back leg into the floor . For more stretch -gently lean forward and hold for 10 secs-repeat on the other side

General AdviceTry to exercise once / day even if its only walking

Get out and meet other people get ideas from them

Join an exercise class Tai Chi is great for the joints yoga is marvellous for suppleness

Above all enjoy this phase of your life !

Val O'Halloran Massage Therapist