You've heard it since gym class in elementary school: stretching before any kind of physical activity will help prevent injury and improve circulation. But is it true? Or is it one of those made-up axioms, like the one about birds exploding if you feed them uncooked rice?
Good news: your mom didn't lie to you on this one! Stretching (properly) provides a variety of benefits, like improving your posture and increasing your range of motion. Here are a few reasons why you should stretch and why assisted stretching from the Stretch Zone can help you feel your best.
Nobody wants to live in pain, and those who do live with chronic pain can tell you about all the ways they've tried to eliminate it. But most people overlook simple things that could help tremendously. According to a 2012 review, multiple studies found that stretching can not only reduce chronic neck pain, but it can increase the tolerance of neck and musculoskeletal pain.
One study even found that patients reported a 94% decrease in pain associated with trigger points after specific stretches were performed. As with any sort of regiment to decrease chronic pain, it's best to see a professional instead of trying to figure it out on your own. The last thing you'd want to do is make your chronic pain worse!
Your mom probably told you at some point, "If you don't start sitting up straight, you'll end up like the Hunchback of Notre-Dame!" Although that might be a stretch, there's definite proof that poor posture can cause back problems, especially in the long term.
Incorporating a back-stretching regimen can help this back pain, claims Harvard Health Publishing, adding that "supple, well-stretched muscles are less prone to injury, while less flexible muscles and connective tissues restrict joint mobility, which increases the likelihood of sprains and strains."
Stretch Zone says table stretching is an effective method of targeted stretching that can help elongate and loosen those muscles that might be tight and causing bad posture.
Decreased injury risk
Although the scientific community has not produced a consensus on the relationship between stretching and injury prevention in sports, this Sports Medicine study notes that this conflict could stem from lumping all sports together; stretching is more effective at preventing injury in certain sports more than in others.
The study provides a more scientific explanation: sports that involve a lot of bouncing and jumping have a high intensity of stretch-shortening cycles (SSCs). Those sports (e.g. soccer, volleyball, jumping over a gate to impress your girlfriend) require a highly compliant muscle-tendon unit to minimize injuries.
Stretching has been proven to influence the viscosity of the tendon and make it significantly more compliant. And so when it comes to sports with SSCs of high intensity, stretching may play a huge role in reducing injury risk.
Reducing muscle tightness
In today's modern world, it's easy to live a sedentary lifestyle, with exercise only coming in the form of daily walks to the watercooler or an occasional hike when the schedule allows. Add in everyday stress and the result is often tense, tight and achy muscles. A regular stretching routine can help alleviate this tightness, notes the Harvard Health Letter.
Feeling better mentally
Getting rid of your muscle tightness will not just prevent physical pain and injury, it will also make you feel a ton better mentally. Being pain-free will allow you to function at your most productive. The downside is that you won't be able to use your bad back to get out of helping your cousin move anymore, but it's a worthwhile trade.
Stretching can also provide a short-term boost—it just feels good. A good stretch sesh at 3 p.m. or so can invigorate you and help you get through the rest of your work day. And it's healthier than caffeine.
Additionally, Stretch Zone says focusing on specific areas of the body that carry physical and emotional stress can help relieve some of that burden. By stretching out common areas like your neck, shoulders, and upper back, you can lighten your mental—and physical—load.
Personalized plans help you get the most out of a stretch session
A study published in International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy notes that while stretching can be beneficial for many people, the best results come from a personalized plan for each individual. Depending on what your goal is—pain management, flexibility, wellness—the practitioner can tailor stretches to fit your goals, taking into account your body and limitations.
Although there are plenty of resources online to help you stretch better, the best way to get the most out of your stretching is to consult a professional—like the experts at Stretch Zone.
The story behind Stretch Zone
Stretch Zone is a labor of love. In the late 1990s, Jorden Gold was able to help his bedridden grandfather regain mobility by creating and applying a stretching routine for him. Wanting to help others in the same way, Jorden learned everything he could about stretching and used this knowledge to create Stretch Zone.
How does Stretch Zone work?
The proprietary Stretch Zone Method® works by adjusting the stretch reflex to gradually increase your active range of motion (and not just flexibility).
Their website adds, "Utilizing our patented equipment, our Stretch Zone practitioners follow specific methods and protocols to properly position, stabilize, isolate, and manipulate muscles using powerful principles of neuromuscular behavior."
The shortened version of that is: they know their stuff.
Who is it for?
Everyone. This is not a cop-out answer: the Stretch Zone has helped all types of folks, from high-level athletes (think NBA and NFL) to desk dwellers trying to reduce their back pain. Regardless of who you are, the Stretch Zone will be able to create a plan tailored to your goals and needs. Just take it from Drew Brees, who became a partner of Stretch Zone earlier this year. He's even got a company jacket and everything.
Ready to give Stretch Zone a go? Find your closest location (there are three in Salt Lake) and book a free 30-minute session here!