Stretching: So, are memberships to these businesses a good idea? IT DEPENDS.
The tightness we feel that might make tying our shoes or clasping our bra more difficult is most likely not coming from tight muscles. These difficulties, especially after the age of 40, are most likely due to joint restrictions. Osteoarthritis is a normal part of aging, and as we age, we start to lose mobility, making certain tasks more difficult.
If you notice one side being more restricted or more painful than the other, or if you have difficulty with everyday tasks, it’s time to come in for an appointment with a therapist to treat the joint or refer you to a physician. It’s best not to wait until that stiff joint becomes painful. If you do, you are more likely to need joint replacement surgery or steroid injections.
So, when and how are the best ways to keep our muscles limber? Muscles tend to lose length after intense physical activity and exercise. The BEST way to keep your muscles healthy is to take matters into your OWN hands.
TIPS: Before you exercise or do yard work, etc., you want to get blood into your muscles so they don’t tear during activity. A DYNAMIC warm-up is the best way to do this. You don’t have to be an exercise scientist to know what and how to do this. If you are going to run, walk briskly for 5-10 minutes. If you are going to lift weights, perform the lifting motions with a resistance band or lighter weight for 5-10 minutes. In other words, replicate the activity you are going to perform with less weight or vigor for 10 minutes, then have at it! Remember, this is to avoid tears.
To improve flexibility, research tells us that we need to stretch our muscles after exercise and activity.
WARNING: Static stretching before exercise increases the risk of muscle tears and decreases performance. Stretching each muscle group for 45 seconds to 2 minutes without bouncing or moving is your best bet. The gold standard is 45 seconds x 5 reps. Alternatively, you could hold the stretch for up to 2 minutes and decrease the reps to 2.
Most people would benefit from stretching the muscles that tend to stay tight and whose tightness leads to sciatica, back pain, and tendonitis.
If you would like personal instruction on how to maintain mobility and avoid injury, we would love to talk. Call or email us for a free consultation, and we will get you moving in the right direction.
My advice? Save the table for a good massage and keep the stretching to your own devices.