One of the most important parts of a physical therapy treatment plan is stretching. A physical therapist will incorporate targeted stretches into each treatment plan they design, in order to target problem areas for their patients. While strength and endurance exercises are also incredibly important, stretching can be especially helpful in helping a patient manage their aches and pains. There are several benefits to stretching, including pain relief, increased flexibility, and functional improvement. To learn more about stretching can benefit you, contact James River Physical Therapy today.
5 important benefits of stretching:
Stretching has a lot of benefits that we don’t always think about. The top 5 include:
1. Relieving pain through targeted stretches
Our bodies are incredibly interconnected. While some stretches may seem obvious (for example, stretching your back to relieve back pain), sometimes stretching certain parts of your body can provide relief in areas you may not have expected. In that same back pain scenario, it is indeed obvious that some back stretches are needed. However, stretching the hips, hamstrings, and upper thighs can also provide relief for lower back pain. A physical therapist can provide targeted stretches for you that you may not have considered beforehand.
2. Enhancing circulation
Stretching plays a large role in benefitting your heart and your musculoskeletal system. In fact, it plays a large role in almost every aspect of your physical abilities. When muscles are tight, they constrict your amount of available oxygen supply and your muscles are essentially left deprived of the necessary nutrients they need. When you stretch, this process is reversed. Stretching frequently increases the blood flow in your joints and throughout the rest of your body, providing your muscles with the oxygen they need to function at their optimum levels.
3. Increasing range of motion
When a physical therapist talks about your “range of motion,” they are referring to the extent that you are able to move your joints in all directions. Your range of motion impacts every movement you make, so one of the many goals of a physical therapist is to make sure you have the best range of motion possible for your abilities. If you have a constricting condition, such as arthritis or an injury, your range of motion can be hindered. Stretching can help increase your range of motion by improving your flexibility and reducing your stiffness.
4. Improving performance
The more you condition your muscles, joints, and ligaments, the greater advantage you’ll have in any physical activity you decide to participate in. Whether you’re a committed athlete or someone simply trying to add more physical activity into your daily life, stretching can help in greatly improving your performance. For example, golfers can achieve a longer reach by increasing their range of motion in their hips and shoulders through stretches. Swimmers can even out their strokes by perfecting their balance through stretching. Bodybuilders can recover from their reps much quicker when they stretch as a cool-down. Whatever the case may be, stretching regularly can help you achieve your optimum performance.
5. Avoiding injuries
The likelihood of sustaining an injury increases when your muscles are tense or tight. When you stretch, you are helping your body in loosening up your muscles, increasing your range of motion, and improving your balance. All of these factors contribute to your body’s ability to avoid injuries. By stretching regularly, you are allowing your body to perform at its peak performance, thus decreasing your risk of becoming injured during a workout.
Contact us for additional help:
A physical therapist can provide you with additional tips for reaching your physical goals through stretching. At your initial consult, you will discuss which types of stretches may be best for you, whether it be static, dynamic, pre-activity, or post-activity. From there, a physical therapist can design a targeted stretching plan for you based on your specific needs, in order to allow for optimum benefits. Contact James River Physical Therapy today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how stretching can improve your overall health!