There are many health benefits associated with regular stretching, including better joint flexibility, stronger muscles, improved posture, and greater range of motion. These wonderful benefits are the reason why we often recommend stretching to clients visiting our chiropractic clinic.
Unfortunately, it is possible to injure yourself while stretching and it’s not uncommon for of people to wind up at visiting one of our Ealing chiropractors with stretching injuries each year.
To help you avoid any stretching related injuries, this post will explain how to stretch safely.
Should You Talk To Your Doctor?
Although stretching is generally considered to be a very safe activity, it is still a form of exercise and some precautions should be taken before starting. If any of the following apply to you, see a doctor or our chiropractor in Ealing before starting a new stretching regime:
You haven’t exercised in a long time
If you are a little out of shape, talk to your medical professional to learn which kinds of exercises are appropriate given your current physical condition. They will be able to give you an idea of what your sessions can involve and how long each workout should be.
You have a chronic health condition
Individuals suffering from chronic problems like osteoarthritis, cancer, or degenerative disc disease should seek expert advice before exercising. If your condition involves the spine, talk to our chiropractor in Ealing to learn which stretches are appropriate.
You have significant pain
The old saying “no pain no gain” is actually quite destructive! If you already have back pain, talk to a doctor or chiropractor to receive a diagnosis before you begin your new exercise program.
You recently had surgery
If you have had surgery within the past few months, ask your doctor or surgeon about the types of exercises that are appropriate during the recovery period.
There are also some red flags that you should be aware of when stretching. If any of the following occur, stop stretching and consider talking to a medical professional:
- Sudden sharp pain
- Discomfort affecting your upper chest (pain, aching, tightness)
- Difficulty breathing
- Signs of overheating or dehydration (headache, nausea, dizziness, cramps)
Tips For Safe Stretching
#1 – Always warm up before starting
It may seem counterintuitive to warm up before stretching, given that many people use stretching as a way to warmup. However, some stretches are quite intense and shouldn’t be performed on muscles and joints that aren’t warmed up.
Before you stretch, perform some light cardio to stimulate blood flow and raise your body temperature. Take a brisk walk around the house, use a skipping rope, run on the spot, ride a stationary bike, or perform jumping jacks. This video shares some aerobic movements and bodyweight exercises for warming up.
#2 – Always pay close attention to posture
Maintaining good posture while stretching reduces the risk of injury and ensures that each stretch is as effective as possible. If you need help with your posture, our chiropractors in Ealing can help you. They will be able to run you through several stretches and look for any postural problems.
#3 – Go slow
Steady wins the race when it comes to stretching. Perform each stretch slowly and cautiously. Your goal is to maintain good form and to achieve a gradual improvement over time. Don’t rush into a stretch or overdo it.
#4 – Stop if you feel pain
Stretches should apply moderate tension to your muscles, ligaments, and tendons. They shouldn’t cause pain or make you excessively uncomfortable. If you ever experience pain or a stretch doesn’t feel safe, stop immediately.
#5 – Be consistent
If you haven’t stretched in a while, you may discover that you are not as flexible as you remember. Don’t worry, this will change over time, as long as you are consistent with your stretching.
The key is to make stretching a daily habit. Schedule one or two short stretching sessions into your day at specific times. For most people, the best times are immediately after waking in the morning and just before you go to bed.
#6 – Breathe during each stretch
Researchers have discovered that the body’s muscles tense slightly when breathing in and relax when breathing out. This means you can focus on your breathing during each stretch to enhance its effectiveness. Deep breathing will also increase your oxygen intake, which fuels the muscles and helps you achieve deeper stretches.
#7 – Don’t bounce
Back in the 1980’s it was common for gym goers to bounce their stretches in order to improve their range of motion. Unfortunately, this technique is not beneficial and can increase the risk of injury.
#8 – Use stretches that are match your goals
It’s a good idea to define some fitness goals before planning your stretching routine. You can then identify stretches which are ideal for reaching those goals. For example, if you want to run longer distances, you could incorporate stretches that are ideal for runners.
How Visiting A Chiropractor In Ealing Is Useful
Chiropractors are strong advocates for stretching, as they know that it can provide many incredible health benefits to patients. They often work with patients to create tailored stretching programs that are appropriate for their current fitness levels and any medical conditions they are dealing with.
Chiropractic stretching programs can also be very useful for dealing with postural issues or to facilitate a rapid recovery from surgery.
Our chiropractic team at The Spine & Joint Centre in Ealing is here to help you. You can book an appointment with one of or chiropractors by calling our clinic on 020 8900 9004.