Welcome to ACE PR’s blog, we will be posting information based on training, everyday lifestyle, and questions we receive from our clients. One of the most frequent questions we receive is “do I have to stretch?”
The answer is simple: YES!
Stretching to improve or at least maintain your flexibility and range of motion is vital for everyday activities. Every decade, you lose 10% of your flexibility! The longer you put off stretching and mobility work, the higher risk of injury you will be in. For young athletes and adults, not having optimal mobility and flexibility can cause injuries such as a pulled hamstring, lower back pain, reduced performance, reduced strength/power output, increased risk of joint injuries via hyperextension, etc. To promote longevity in your sport or desk job, having a base mobility plan in your training program is recommended; often overlooked, even desk jockeys will suffer from hip and lower back issues due to their stature in front of their computer and long hours sitting in mediocre/poor posture.
For the elderly community, one of the biggest causes of injuries is having a low gait (distance between walking stride). Low gait correlates to a high risk of falling as they are unable to catch themselves if they trip or over step themselves; in effect, injuries such as a broken arm, hand/wrist, hip, and/or face may occur. It has been shown once an elderly individual has suffered a series injury, physical functions fall severely within the first six months. If recovery work was done incorrectly or poorly, temporarily or even lasting dependance will be needed and quality of life will be altered.
So, if you want to check out how well your mobility is, try these five home stretches:
1 – The quad stretch: From a standing position, bend your knee back by grasping your ankle as far back as possible, ensure you maintain an upright position so grab onto a table or wall if your are unable to maintain stability. Does your heel touch your butt? If so, then your flexibility is optimal! Are you experiencing an intense stretch just holding your ankle? Self-assessment is the first step to improvement!
2 – Hamstring stretch: From standing position, keep your feet as close to each other as possible, keep your legs straight and reach for your toes. If you can touch them with ease, your hamstrings have great flexibility! If you are having trouble bending over, you may have issues that can range from your lower back to your hamstrings!
3- Pectoralis stretch (chest): Standing in the middle of a doorway with one foot in front of the other, bend your elbows at a 90 degree angle and place your forearms on the side of the doorway. Lean forward by shifting your weight to your lead foot, continue until you feel a stretch at your chest. Having no issue opening your chest or do you feel an immediate stretch?
4- Latissimus dorsi stretch: Standing next to the doorway or a rail, grab to the edge of the doorway or rail, lean back and tilt forward, similar to a bow. An alternative motion to perform is to stand with your feet shoulder width apart, raise your hands over your head and overlap one another. Bend over to your side maintaining an upright posture and your hands over your head, repeat for both sides. Do you feel tight on one side and mobile on the other? Are they equally tight or mobile?
5 – Trapezius (trap) stretch: This is a popular stretch among desk jockeys and athletes alike, you can do this stretch either standing or sitting. Start by tilting your chin down, as if you are nodding in agreement; you may or may not feel a stretch at this point. If you do not feel a stretch, slowly turn and twist your head as if you are looking at something immediately next to you. You can assist the stretch by gently holding your head with the opposite hand of the turning direction.
These five stretches are simple every day movements you can test yourself to see how proficient your mobility and flexibility is. If you are not confident to attempt these stretches, seek a stretch practitioner who can assist you with advanced movements while providing you the proper information to perform advised stretches at home. Never over stretch or stretch too hard! Take your time to stretch, otherwise it will be counterproductive.
Thank you for reading! Be sure to check back on new posts every week!
Contact us for appointments, scheduling, or questions you want answered on the next blog.
Christopher Escamilla MS SSR
Level 3 Fascial Stretch Therapy Specialist
Owner of ACE Performance & Recovery