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When Should You Stretch?

Education | | Dr. Dann

Stretch because you want to, not because you have to!

Our bodies send us several signals throughout the day. When we wait for our bodies to give us signals before we address something, we are already behind the ball! Did you know that when our bodies give us the signal that we are thirsty we are actually already getting dehydrated? The signal is delayed, and now we have to come back from behind and get ourselves hydrated again!

When your muscles and joints give you signs like tightness and stiffness we think that now is the time to stretch. It's not wrong, but the BEST time to stretch would be before you NEED to stretch.

Well, why does it matter when I stretch?

Stretching before physical activity helps to increase blood flow to the muscles, enhancing flexibility and reducing the risk of muscle tightness during exercise. In contrast, stretching after physical exertion may not be as effective in preventing muscle tightness, as the muscles are already fatigued and may not respond as well to stretching.

Stretching tight muscles can help alleviate tension and improve flexibility, reducing the risk of muscle strains and injuries during physical activity. However, overstretching tight muscles without proper caution or guidance can potentially lead to muscle strains, tears, or exacerbation of existing injuries!

Stretching before you feel stiff and tight can offer numerous benefits for your body and overall well-being. Here are five advantages:

  • Improves Flexibility: Stretching regularly, even when you don't feel stiff, helps maintain and improve flexibility in your muscles and joints. Enhanced flexibility can enhance your range of motion, making daily activities easier and reducing the risk of injury during physical activities.
  • Enhances Blood Circulation: Stretching increases blood flow to your muscles, which improves circulation throughout your body. This enhanced circulation delivers more oxygen and nutrients to your muscles and removes waste products, promoting quicker recovery after exercise and reducing muscle soreness.
  • Reduces Risk of Injury: Preemptive stretching helps prepare your muscles and joints for physical activity, reducing the risk of strain or injury. By improving flexibility and increasing blood flow to the muscles, stretching helps ensure that your body is primed and ready for movement, decreasing the likelihood of muscle pulls, strains, or other injuries.
  • Promotes Relaxation: Stretching can have a calming effect on both the body and mind. Engaging in gentle stretching before you feel stiff and tense can help alleviate stress and tension, promoting relaxation and improving your overall sense of well-being.
  • Enhances Posture: Regular stretching can help improve posture by releasing tension in tight muscles that may be pulling your body out of alignment. By stretching regularly, particularly before you feel stiff, you can help prevent the development of muscular imbalances that contribute to poor posture, leading to better overall body alignment and reduced risk of discomfort or injury.

If stretching before or after activity doesn’t seem to alleviate any of your tightness, there may be more going on. Sometimes there are other factors that contribute to tight muscles that cannot be merely stretched away. If this resonates with you, give us a call. We would love to help.