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Stretching interventions and it’s importance

Updated on May 18, 2016

Stretching is any therapeutic maneuver that increases mobility of a contracted or restricted soft tissue in the body. Stretching is very important, not only for athletes, but also for most of the patients going through physical therapy treatment. Stretching should also be incorporated in the daily exercise routine. Stretching helps prevent sprain strain soft tissue injuries.

Stretching is indicated in situations like restricted range of motion, structural deformities, shortening of tissues, used in daily fitness program or before and after vigorous exercises to prevent muscle soreness. Stretching also has it’s contraindications like bony block, hematoma, acute pain, inflammation, sports injury rehabilitation, sciatica pain treatment, existing hypermobility, sometimes shortened tissues help patient with daily activities like in paralysis.

Most of the researches show that stretching helps in improving flexibility and range of motion. Some research also suggests that it helps in risk reduction, reduction in muscle, shoulder arm and wrist pain treatment, soreness post-exercise and also enhances performance of the muscles. While performing stretching interventions, points like alignment of the body segment, stabilization of the body segment, intensity and duration of the stretch, speed of the stretch, frequency and mode of the stretch should be kept in mind.

There are mainly four main types of stretching: static stretching, cyclic stretching, ballistic stretching, PNF stretching. Static stretching is basically prolonged stretching of a soft tissue. The duration varies from hold of 5 seconds to 15 seconds depending on the repetitions. The best result comes from three 15 seconds stretch of any muscle every day. Cyclic stretching is short duration repeated stretch with a controlled and low intensity stretch at the end.

Stretching is important before exercises as it warms up the muscle and improves flexibility thus, reducing the risk of injury. Stretching after the exercises helps prevent muscle soreness and avoids muscles contractures. After stretching, athletes should apply cold in the lengthened position of the muscle because cold helps maintain the achieved range of motion more readily.

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