The Importance of Stretching – Stretch to Prevent Injury

How These Simple Physical Therapy Techniques Keep Your Body Safe

If you have ever been to a sports game or watched the Olympics, you will notice every athlete stretching both before and after serious physical activity. One of the biggest mistakes people new to exercise (and plenty of pros for that matter) make is failing to properly stretch out their muscles. For the same reason that everyone prefers waking up slowly to suddenly, your muscles need time to prepare themselves for hard activities, while also benefitting from winding down when it is all over. 

Incorporating stretching into your routine is an excellent way to keep your body limber while also preventing injuries associated with repetitive strain. This does not just apply to athletics or when you are engaging in sports and physical activities. Even if you work at a desk all day, stretching before and after this can help to prevent long term issues.

5 Stretching Exercises to Prevent Injury

Whether you are new to this or just need a refresher, there are a few simple stretches you can incorporate into your daily routine to prevent injury. Here are 5 exercises designed to give you a full body stretch: 

  • Sitting hamstring: An excellent stretch for both beginners and more advanced practitioners alike, this exercise targets the muscles in the lower back and hamstrings. Especially if you are prone to injury in these areas or regularly put them through repetitive strain, this will be extremely valuable. To practice, simply sit down with your legs out in front of you (a little ways apart) and alternate leaning in towards one leg then the other. Try holding the position after leaning in for up to 30 seconds, for a deeper stretch.
  • Lunges: Lunges do wonders for the legs and gluteal muscles as a way of warming up or winding down from exercise. If done in quick succession, they can also be an exercise unto themselves, helping to build lower body strength. Simply alternate lunging forward with one foot then the other, lowering down until the knee of your back leg is touching the ground, then return to standing position.
  • Downward dog: A classic yoga pose for increasing flexibility and building strength, downward dog prioritizes the calves as a stretch but also does a lot for the core and arms. Holding a downward dog position for greater lengths of time and adding in a pedaling movement are great ways of getting the most out of this stretch. To practice, get onto your hands and feet in a plank position, then elevate your glutes to form your body into a triangle shape. You should feel this working the back of your legs.
  • Overhead tricep stretch: Excellent for the triceps and laterals, if you do a lot of work with your arms, this is a perfect stretch for relieving tension and stress. Lift one arm over your head, then grab its wrist with your other arm and pull it over towards your head. If you want to take this one step further for a deeper stretch, try leaning in the direction you are pulling your arm. This will stretch out muscles all down the side of your body and alleviate tension in the core.
  • Cobra: Speaking of the core, cobra is another yoga pose with some amazing benefits for both the core and lower back. Lower yourself to the ground on your chest, put your hands next to your ribs and lift your upper body off the ground with your gaze upwards. This is a stretch where it is important to listen to your body and not overdo it, as going too far or doing it incorrectly can actually cause harm.

Giving your muscles the time to properly stretch before and after strenuous activities can make all the difference when working to prevent injury. If, however, you should experience muscle related injuries, the best thing to do is consult with a physical therapist who can help you to incorporate other techniques into your life in order to facilitate recovery.

At Medical Rehabilitation Centers of Pennsylvania, we have over 40 years of experience working closely with patients to not only help them recover from injuries but also prevent future ones. Our team of expert physical therapists are trusted by our clients for our tireless dedication to improving their lives through strengthening and healing.

Learn more about how you can prevent serious injury. Contact us at the location of your choice or complete our online form and our team will get back to you as soon as possible. 

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