Stretching and Flexibility. Some general things to know…
Proper function of your muscles and joints demands enough range of motion in those joints--maintaining flexibility. Stretching that promotes persistent muscle length is essential!
Reduced flexibility is often seen over time and becomes much more apparent with the aged. When we couple this with reduced strength as we age, the result is decreased performance and an inability to perform daily tasks. Assessing flexibility is often difficult without a trained professional because many factors play a role including strength and disease (e.g. arthritis).
It is generally recommended that muscle temperature is raised through warm-ups prior to stretching. Stretch to your end range where tightness is felt. Do not induce substantial discomfort as you are more likely to injure yourself. Muscles are viscoelastic and inducing change in length comes with applied force but discomfort is your bodies way of saying, "slow down"... Changes in flexibility are not made overnight. Consistency and proper form are the most important aspects of stretching. Yoga is an excellent way to improve flexibility. Wyatt Rehab in West Long Branch, A Physical Therapy clinic known for its Breast Cancer Rehabilitation and Lymphedema Treatment, now offers Yoga to its patients partly because of the profound benefits in Range of Motion that can be achieved.
Stretching daily is recommended by most experts and each stretch should last approximately 15 seconds and need not exceed 30 seconds. Multiple stretches are recommended per muscle- a single stretch is beneficial but variety will incorporate more muscle groups. The stretching I am referring to is Static Stretching but other techniques exist as well. Dynamic and Contract/ Relax stretching exists but this is not recommended without professional input. The goal with stretching is consistency! This is so that improvements in both range of motion and function are maintained and not transient.
It is always recommended to consult your physician and physical therapist when engaging in these activities. This becomes essential when prior injuries or other conditions exist that could pose a risk to the individual.