Scottsdale Chiropractor Dr. Charles Clark tells all about the reasons for, benefits of, as well as the best do’s and don’ts for stretching.
About Scottsdale Chiropractor Dr. Charles Clark
Hi there. I’m Dr. Charles Clark of Arrowhead Health Centers. I am a passionate individual who finds great satisfaction in helping people get healthy. Originally a sports fanatic, I found a love for chiropractic after seeing how the benefits of consistent chiropractic care improved my own quality of life as well as the lives of my fellow sports enthusiasts. After playing baseball at Crowder College, I attended and graduated from Fontbonne University, then went on to receive my doctorate in chiropractic in 1998 from Logan University. 14 years later I still get enormous satisfaction from helping my patients find a better quality of life. My job as a Scottsdale Chiropractor gets better every day.
Today I’d like to hit on the importance of stretching. We tend to think that stretching is for athletes before or after exercise. While that is true, athlete and non-athletes alike should stretch every day.
What Happens When You Stretch
An oversimplified explanation of what happens when you stretch is that your nervous system relaxes allowing you to extend the range of motion for the muscle group that you are stretching. The nervous system and the muscle function work together to keep your body safe. If, let’s say, you bend forward to stretch your hamstrings but are met with resistance, your nervous system is saying “Stop! We don’t feel safe letting the hamstrings extend any further.”
Consistent stretching allows the nervous system to build “confidence” that your muscles can handle varying lengths of extension.
When you don’t stretch, you are minimizing the “safe zone” of your muscle range. Your nervous system will allow you muscles to move to a smaller and smaller degree. Sort of a use-it-or-lose-it type of philosophy. As a Scottsdale Chiropractor, I see this loss of mobility all the time in my patients.
It is important to stretch so that your muscles are prepared to move in a wide range of directions at any time. Let’s say you want to flee from a bad guy, jump over a rain puddle, or swing your leg over a motorcycle. You want your nervous system to feel ok about letting your muscle groups move in order to accommodate these requests.
What Happens if You Don’t Stretch
If you don’t stretch you face a variety of potential issues such as decreased mobility decreased muscle metabolism, decreased muscle coordination, decreased power “output”, decreased speed, and most importantly, increased risk of injuries. Your muscle starts to lose the ability to move in broader motion.
But don’t worry, you can easily regain your flexibility by starting a stretching regime. A few simple stretches in the morning or bed can do the trick. Or even try a few at lunch to help bring clarity and blood flow back to your brain. For the stretching devotee, I recommend yoga. There are some great yoga studios around the valley, as well as excellent videos on DVD or Youtube.
For harder-to-stretch areas like the upper neck and upper back, I recommend chiropractic care. A good chiropractor can not only put you into correct alignment but also help maintain flexibility in the spine by stretching out these hard to reach areas. He or she should also be able to suggest a few at-home stretches that will keep you feeling loose between adjustments.
The Benefits of Stretching
The good news is that stretching can be done anywhere and yields a long list of benefits. Regular stretchers can look forward to flexibility, increased blood flow, decreased the risk of injury, improved athletic performance, increased the range of motion in joints, and stress relief just to name a few.
Dos and Don’ts for Stretching:
- Do hold the stretch for at least 10 seconds; anything less is ineffective.
- Don’t bounce. Static stretching is best.
- Do stretch if you have poor posture. Muscles shorten over time and can contribute to poor posture.
- Do stretch until you feel a tightness.
- Don’t stretch until you feel pain.
- Don’t hold your breath while stretching; this causes muscles to contract.
- Do stretch 1 – 2 times a day for best results.
If you have questions about stretching, are curious about chiropractic, or are in need of pain management help, I would personally be honored to help you. Please call our Arrowhead Health office today to make an appointment today.