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Posted on 04-25-2012

Stretching Safely for Optimal Health

      Whether you exercise for recreation or for competition, regular stretching and chiropractic supervision can be essential to your success in any activity. Stability and flexibility are crucial parts of safety and skill in all sports activities, and chiropractic care is an effective approach to help build and maintain a balanced, agile body. Balanced flexibility programs help the body hold improved alignment from chiropractic adjustments. Stretching prepares the body for activity while preventing injury. Stretching can also assist the body's integration of postural and structural correction from chiropractic care.

      Chiropractic care and flexibility training is a winning combination in your exercise routine: you will enhance coordination and circulation, increase range of motion, and reduce restriction and instability. Including flexibility as part of your chiropractic wellness lifestyle with regular spinal checkups will add to the benefits you gain from a healthy spine and nervous system, good nutrition, and balanced exercise with rest. Maintaining equilibrium in your body's system of nerves, joints, and muscles through chiropractic care will improve your performance both in sports and in life.

      Chiropractors often provide patients with stretches as part of their care programs following adjustments at their office. If you have been inactive, have had recent physical problems or injuries, or have any questions, consult your Doctor of Chiropractic before you proceed with any stretching or exercise program.

There are three ingredients to a balanced fitness program:

1. Aerobic Fitness,

2. Muscular Strength & Endurance, and

3. Balanced Flexibility

To maximize your sports performance and reduce the chance of injury with activity, you need to:

* Understand the factors involved in flexibility

                                                   *Include an effective combination of flexibility activities and                            chiropractic care in your exercise program.


FOUR FLEXIBILITY FACTORS FOR FITNESS

1How Flexibility Benefits You

Stretching enhances overall physical fitness and reduces your chance of injury in many ways. Stretching:

  • Promotes development of body awareness
  • Increases relaxation, both physically and mentally
  • Optimizes learning and performance of athletic skills
  • Reduces risk of injury in joints and muscles
  • Helps maintain strength
  • Enhances freedom of movement
  • Assists in postural correction
  • Reduces soreness and tension with consistent practice.

3What Limits Flexibility

Limitations to flexibility are common, and often involve situations that can be improved with proper flexibility training:

  • Postural problems
  • Tight muscles, tendons and ligaments
  • Restrictions in the joint capsules
  • Previous injury
  • Muscle Soreness
  • Genetics
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Inactivity Level

With a balanced combination of aerobic fitness, muscular strength and endurance training, and stretching with enhanced alignment and function through chiropractic care, your inherent potential for flexibility and health can be better realized.

2Common Contradictions To Stretching

Flexibility training may need to be restricted or avoided in situations where there is:

  • Stretching in a position where a bone blocks motion
  • Stretching where there is a recent fracture of a bone
  • An acute inflammatory or infectious process in or around the joint-suspected or known
  • Osteoporosis-suspected or known
  • Sharp, acute pain with joint movement or muscle elongation
  • History of recent sprain or strain in the area
  • Vascular or skin diseases that may be irritated by stretching

4Successful Flexibility Training Includes

  • POSITION of the body to support the stretch activity
  • ORIENTATION and placement of the involved body parts during stretching
  • MOTIONS involved in the stretch
  • INTENSITY and DURATION of the stretch
  • REGULARITY of the stretching sessions


FLEXIBILITY FACTS

How does flexibility work? Learning how the body moves and the roles played by different components will help you better understand your body's needs, participate more directly in your program of chiropractic care, and exercise more effectively and safely.

WHY "STATIC" INSTEAD OF "BALLISTIC" STRETCHING?

Static stretching is recommended as an effective stretching technique for increasing flexibility with minimal risk of injury. A static stretch involves holding a postition that gradually stretches the muscle and connective tissues to a greater length; the "bouncing" in "ballistic" stretches may actually tighten the muscle.

STATIC stretching protects against the neuromuscular response called the stretch reflex, a reflex action that actually causes the muscle to contract against the stretch! A sensory receptor inside the muscle alongside the muscle fiber called the muscle spindle monitors the length and tension of the muscle: it responds to a stretch on that muscle by sending a signal to the spinal cord, then receiving a message back from the spinal cord to contract. The faster and more forceful the stretching movement the harder the reflex contraction will be. In other words, the initial tightness you feel with a stretch is actually the muscles contracting! BALLISTIC stretching imposes high-force, high-speed movements on the muscle, stimulating the stretch reflex. This will not only defeat the stretch you are working toward, but can generate a tremendous degree of tension on the muscle fibers and increase the possibility of injury. When a stretch is performed slowly and genltly, the stretch reflex is minimal and the greatest relaxation response can occur for the muscles you are stretching.

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO STRETCH?

Most experts now recommend stretching BEFORE AND AFTER exercise activity. Warm-ups with general low-intensity activities like walking help increase blood flow and enhance range of motion. Cool-downs after exercise activities will provide maximum gains in range of movement and overall increase in flexibility. This is especially important after aerobic exercise because after typical aerobic activities (including rowing and stairstepping) muscles are actually tighter! Whenever performed, each stretch activity should begin gently and progress gradually to a more advanced stretch.

HOW CAN CHIROPRACTIC CARE AND FLEXIBILITY TRAINING HELP ME?

Chiropractic care helps you regain and maintain your wellness potential through correcting the structural and functional imbalances in the body. Deviations in body alignment, called subluxation, can involve a reactive complex of health problems: abnormal nerve function, with distortions in a position and motion of the joints and muscles of the spine and supported structures.

This vertebral subluxation complex involves misalignments of the spine that affect the nervous system, including muscle reflexes and pain receptors. The body will innately attempt to balance itself. These compensations may, however, lead to additional problems and alter the body's capacity to move and function optimally, causing further distortions. By reducing subluxations, chiropractic care works to balance the body's intrinsically harmonious systems for optimal expression of health and wellness.

It is important to combine chiropractic care with your exercise and flexibility programs so that your spine and nervous system, which control and coordinate all other systems of the body, can regain and maintain healthy patterns of movement and function, for the healthy and happy life you were born to have!

FLEXIBILITY IS IMPORTANT TO ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE!

Flexibility is much more than just stretch-ability; it is the ability to move series of joints through their full, unrestricted normal range of motion.

INFLEXIBILITY COMES FROM AND LEADS TO IMBALANCE

Inflexibility can be both the cause and the result of many factors, including deviations in posture, muscle soreness, and injury-both major impacts like collisions and micro-traumas like repetitive stress injuries. Increased tension in the muscle tissues reduces pliability in the fibers. Diminished range of motion may result in injury in the muscles and their attached structures when the restricted joint is subjected to quick motion, excessive force or maximal effort.

KEEP CHIROPRACTIC AND STRETCHING IN YOUR FITNESS AND EXERCISE PROGRAMS

Wellness is a combination of factors and optimal exercise performance involves many important elements. While specific body parts may play crucial roles in a particular athletic activity, the harmonious teamwork of all of the body's components in coordinated balance is what makes the difference. Chiropractic helps balance and coordinate your body's performance potential.

When there is a change in balance from insult or injury, the body will innately attempt to re-balance itself; however, the adaptations to the problem may actually be detrimental to the overall wellness of the body! Deviations from normal healthy function can include structural imbalances in the muscles and joints of the spine as well as disturbances with communicating networks of the nervous system. When muscles react to protect the body from harm or to reduce pain, specific muscles may become overactive while others are inhibited. Muscular imbalance leades to altered movement patterns. While some imbalances may be visually obvious to general observation, others will require more detailed evaluation by your Doctor of Chiropractic.

Chiropractic helps your body's balance and coordination through improved alignment and enhanced communication in the body. Including chiropractic care and flexibility training in your exercise programs balance muscle groups and body parts that can be overused and overstressed during exercise activities. Chiropractic care relieves imbalances in the spine and related parts of the body, which enhances your health and maximizes your athletic potential.  

HAVE FUN!

The most important aspect to any successful fitness program is that it is enjoyable. Every exercise program needs a dynamic combination of safety plus progress. Chiropractic care, along with stretches suggested by your Doctor of Chiropractic, will help keep your body and your exercise program in a healthy balance!

Reference: Chiropractic Sports Health Science, Council on Fitness & Sports Health Science and The International Chiropractors Association

 

 

 

 

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