Stretching is just as important as exercise in your daily workout routine. Stretching those just-worked muscles can increase blood flow, improve athletic performance and decrease risk of injury. Stretching muscles that are used most during your specific workouts will elongate the muscles, allowing your joints to work through their full range of motion, increasing your performance and decreasing the risk of injuries such as tendonitis. Working out before stretching will make for a more effective stretch by warming the muscle up first. Hold each stretch for about 30 seconds. Don’t bounce during the stretch; this only will cause tiny tears in the muscle, which in turn causes scar tissue buildup, ultimately shortening that muscle instead of lengthening it. Feeling tension or a gentle pull during a stretch is good; back off a little if you are feeling pain. Keep in mind that stretching is not good for already strained muscles and will not prevent overuse injuries.
Bridget R. Sanders, PTA
Physical Therapy Department, The Memorial Hospital-Craig