Everyone can benefit from a good stretch. If you work 9am-5pm at a desk job and you feel tension anywhere from your hamstrings up to your neck and shoulders, you should stretch. If you are athletic and constantly on the go, running, biking, hiking around this beautiful city, you should stretch. Maybe you already incorporate some stretching into your routine – read on, there’s lots to learn!
Stretching, in essence, is a voluntary practice used to regain appropriate resting length in muscle fibres which have been previously put under stress and strain, and are not in a position to functioning optimally. Even though it is most commonly associated with the need to stretch, physical activity is not the only culprit for putting stress and strain on a muscle. For example, sitting at a desk with head and arms oriented forward to work on a computer (possibly slouching?) can cause muscles on the front of the neck, shoulders and chest to shorten, and those down the posterior of the body to be pulled farther forward and lengthened more than they are supposed to for extended periods. Both shortened and lengthened, these muscles are being stressed. Stretching, at the end of a long work day or a long work out, will help to bring your body back to a balanced place.
Stretching correctly will realign disorganized fibres in a muscle or muscle group, and result in a relaxed muscle, improved muscle elasticity and tone, circulation in the area, and assisting joint mobility through full range of motion. The key is to stretch gently – breathe through the muscle lengthening but back off the stretch if you feel pain or discomfort. Work the body too much in a painful range and you may experience an inflammatory response.
In the article 36 Pictures to See Which Muscles You’re Stretching, you can find just that – a series of 36 stretches which identify the exact muscles being targeted in each so you know where you start for a stretching regime specific to your goals. This is a great resource if you ever ask yourself, Which muscles am I stretching, and how would it benefit me? Am I doing it correctly?
Seeking manual therapy such as Registered Massage Therapy is also a great help in loosening and lengthening unhappy muscles. Your therapist can also advise on the best stretches for you that you can do at home to help stave off accumulating tension, and how to do them safely and effectively.
Broadway Wellness is a multi-disciplinary healthcare clinic that has been located in the Fairview area of Vancouver, BC since 2004. Our Vancouver clinic provides the services of highly trained and well-reviewed practitioners in the areas of Registered Massage Therapy and Naturopathic Medicine.