It’s not a secret that as the years pass us by muscles and joints become more stiff and tight. It’s part of aging and caused by a combination of inactivity and physical degeneration. This can put a damper on your lifestyle and even interrupt day-to-day activities. Although we can’t stop the aging process completely, this shouldn’t mean giving up on trying to improve your flexibility and strength. Your age shouldn’t be an excuse that prevents you from living a fit and active lifestyle, but certain precautions should be taken as we get older. Muscle injuries are now more common than 50 years ago due to the fact that we are more sedentary … which makes stretching more important than ever.
The Technical Side of Stretching
Flexibility is the range of motion or movement around a particular joint or set of joints … simply put it’s how far we can reach, bend and turn. Stretching is putting the body into a position that will lengthen the muscles and soften tissues (ie: fascia, tendons, skin and scar tissue). Stiff tight muscles limit your normal range of motion. Lack of flexibility can be a major contributing factor to muscle and joint pain, which can make tasks like bending down, zipping up a dress, reaching for a can off of the top shelf or looking over your shoulder very difficult.
Tight stiff muscles interfere with proper muscle action. If the muscles cannot move efficiently your movement will be restricted and short tight muscles can cause a loss of strength as well. Stiff muscles can also restrict blood circulation. Good blood circulation is vitally important to ensure the muscles receive adequate amounts of oxygen and nutrients. Poor circulation can result in increased muscle fatigue and ultimately the ability to recover from strenuous exercise and slows muscles repair. Tightened muscles can greatly increase the chance of becoming injured. Together they present a package that includes aching muscles, limited range of motion and an increased risk of soft tissue injury and a greater likelihood of repeated injury.
Massage, Stretching, Lifelong Habits
Stretching has benefits similar to massage; it gets the blood flowing to overactive muscles that have contracted because of stress and immobility. Without stretching regularly the muscles can spasm and shut down and what happens is you get those tight ropey tendons and cement-like knots that get extra attention from your massage therapist! There isn’t any aspect of self-care that is more important than stretching. If you regularly get massage why not get your money’s worth? Stretching complements massage and can allow you to add time between massages.
It’s understandable that getting into a new habit/routine can be difficult. I promise once you do start doing it as part of your daily regime you will feel so much better. Making a small commitment will have huge results! There are simple stretches you can do while watching TV, on the computer or getting ready for bed. The more conditioned your muscles and tendons are the better they can handle exercise and less likely to become injured. If you haven’t realized it; stretching comes naturally to us. If you’ve been sitting in one position for a long time you stretch unconsciously. It feels good! With daily stretching you will improve greatly in flexibility and joint movement, relieve tension, have more energy and could actually lead you to a pain-free lifestyle. Be kind to your muscles and they will be kind to you.
Here are some great ideas to get you started on your stretching regime:
7 Office Stretching Exercises To Get Energized At Work https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9U0dLLf1HQE
Basic Stretches While Watching TV https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFA_T5BBveo
Bedtime Yoga https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jisa5wy7UME
Yoga Stretches for Back Pain Relief, Sciatica, Neck Pain and Flexibility Beginner Level Workout https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q00u-60XM9Y
Stretching App in iTunes that is absolutely free and is great for beginner stretching https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/start-stretching/id827568897?mt=8
Consult with your Licensed Massage Therapist to get you started with a stretching routine.
Want one of our Massage Therapists to stretch you? We can do that too and you can just lie there! We’ve made it easy for you to book online at: www.IslandMassageOnline.com if you’re not tech savvy or just like to talk to a human, we’d love to hear from you: 727-864-6688. Make Your Appointment Today!
Written by: Patricia Iorio, LMT, CTYP, MA 64528. She has been spreading the power of touch for 12 + years and is now using the power of words to encourage getting regular massage and living a healthy lifestyle.