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Why Should You Stretch

DrNotley - Latissimus dorsi stretch
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In my Chiropractic offices I often have patients come see me because they are in pain. One of the tools that I use to treat these people is stretching.  So why stretch? These are the reasons that I feel stretching is important.

  1. Improved mobility.  The reason for the popularity of yoga is that it is a challenge and people feel better because they move better.  The poses that are used in yoga test our strength to hold ourselves in these positions but also stretch the muscles.  More mobility means more function in regular activities of daily living and with less strain.  The body thrives on movement. We feel better when we move well.
  2. Improved physical performance. Say our stride length in a run is approximately 1.5 meters (not the norm). Therefore if we were to run 100 at a stride frequency of 6 strides a second we would get to the finish line in 11 seconds (100/1.5 = 66.66 strides, 66.66/6 strides per second = 11 seconds). Not too shabby.  If we can not stride any faster then how do we improve our time?  We increase the stride length. Say you stretch and increase your stride to 1.7meters.  Now your time for the 100m is 9.8 seconds. Wow you are now world class.  This might be an over dramatic example, but if you can maximize your flexibility it shows that your performance can improve.  For all of us non-athletes, if we can increase our stride length and say we have a stride frequency of 3 strides a second, we can stop our child, 20m away, from sticking his/her finger in that electrical outlet, 0.5 seconds faster.
  3. Reduce muscle tightness – Stretching often helps when we have a muscle that feels tight. Stretching the trapezius muscles that typically tighten up when you have been sitting at your desk all day often helps my patients.  This is often a great help for many of my patients. Stretching along with using Active Release Technique makes a big difference for my patients and their muscle tightness.
  4. Balances sides – I have found often that people who are tight on one side of their body (front to back, left to right) may have problems on the opposite side. I remembered having a patient in my St. Vital office, during a Chiropractic appointment, being surprised I was treating her opposite side, but she was even more surprised when her problem area felt better.  Think of it this way. If one side is tight, the other side has to work harder and therefore it is more prone to strain.

Originally posted 2010-09-30 14:01:00.