stretch or not to stretch.This is a question that
has been posed by many people in their quest to
eliminate repetitive strain injuries like carpal
tunnel syndrome, trigger finger, tunnel syndrome,
cubital tunnel syndrome, guyon's syndrome, tendonitis
and many other upper extremity disorders.
The answer is yes, stretching in most cases is important in order to increase
the length of tight, restrictive tissues. But there is a catch. Lets use the
wrist and forearm as an example. If you stretch and lengthen one side of the
hand and forearm, say the front side, you need to strengthen and shorten the
opposing side, or back of the hand and forearm. If you just stretch one side
and then do not perform exercises to the opposing muscle group, the tissues
that were stretched go right back to where they were as there is nothing stopping
them from returning back to their original position.
This is where the strengthening exercises come in. By contracting and shortening
the opposing muscle group, or back of hand and forearm, the length created
through stretching the front of the hand and forearm is maintained, keeping
the muscles from returning to their original position.
Stretching alone is NOT the answer. A well-rounded solution is to perform both
stretches and exercises in order to create balance around the joint. This is
true with ANY and ALL joints. Be aware of the following when you implement
a stretching program:
Perform stretches while in a properly aligned position
Don't strain or stretch too far-never stretch
to the point of pain
Increase the stretch only after you feel yourself
/ muscles relax
Breathe slowly while stretching
Do not hold your breath while stretching
Do not overstretch beyond a point to where you
Hold each stretch for 15-20 seconds to allow the
muscle to relax
Repeat each stretch 2-3 times
Think about the area being stretched (Be in tune
with your body)
If you feel pain ease off to a more comfortable
If pain continues consult your doctor
Stretch within your limits
Your flexibility may vary daily so do not try
to overdo it if your body says "no"
Adjust each stretch to your own level of flexibility
Stretching is important to maintain flexibility
so be sure to stretch as least 3-days per week.
Follow up exercises are important to maintain the
effects of the stretch. Perform these exercises immediately to the opposing muscle
group(s) that was just stretched in order to maintain structural balance.
Stay Healthy - Your Health is in YOUR Hands!
Author: Mr. Anliker is a Therapist
and Inventor of Therapeutic Exercise Products that
are utilized by Corporations, Consumers and Medical
Facilities around the world for the prevention and
rehabilitation of repetitive strain injuries.