To Stretch or not to Stretch

Earlier this year a review was published on lack of benefits from stretching.

Baxter, C., Mc Naughton, L. R., Sparks, A., Norton, L., & Bentley, D. (2017). Impact of stretching on the performance and injury risk of long-distance runners. Research in Sports Medicine, 25(1), 78-90.

Ah, I can hear you now, “no need to stretch – it doesn’t do me any good”.

Well, it’s not all bad news for Stretching. The review was studying the impact of stretching to injury risk and performance in long distance runners; hardly, the main core of the population. So it’s conclusion in my opinion does not apply to most people.

We often forget that stretching is an important part of keeping our bodies fit and healthy. It’s good for joints, improves cardiovascular efficiency, releases dopamine which makes us feel happier, helps lower cholesterol & blood sugar levels, reduces pain and makes up stronger!

I have often observed that those of us who do a physical job or cycle or walk to work don’t consider this as exercise. However, the body is being put through a routine movement which can setup postural patterns which left untreated can cause problems later on.

Similarly, occupations involving repetitive movements (bricklaying, plastering etc.) or sustained postures (computer or desk work) over long periods of time can lead to muscle overuse and shortening.

It is therefore important that we remember that having a good stretch on a daily basis helps to maintain and promote movement in our bodies, reducing the risk of stiffness that can lead to so many other issues. You’ll be surprised.

It’s interesting to note that my dog will regularly stretch prior to going for a walk or from getting out a deep nap. Should we be more dog?

We don’t need to go mad, just spend a few minutes a day  stretching what feels tight.

Commonly though, you may find that however long or regular you may be stretching things just don’t improve. This is where your local Osteopath can help. We can assess & treat tight, contracted muscles or rebalance altered muscle postures. Don’t forget to stretch regularly but also don’t hesitate to contact if things still feel wrong.