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November 20, 2012

Stretching for reasons you might not realize

Stretching has been around for decades, but it is commonly skipped in a person’s everyday workout. 

Why? Most likely, flexibility is not always thought of as a priority for those wanting to lose weight, tone up or develop muscle mass. But rest assured stretching is not a habit that should be considered unimportant. It should be done for a variety of reasons. Additionally, the type of stretching you practice depends on what intensity you are working out at.

RANGE OF MOTION

Many times, aerobic training is not done using the full range of motion of the joints involved. As an example, many amateur runners do not use proficient hip range of motion and as a result may lose mobility in this area. 

Professional runners have perfected their form and are strong enough to use a greater range of motion for optimal performance. This form can be seen when watching the leaders of the New York City Marathon. Their heels come all the way to their hips, and their stride is enormous, all while keeping correct posture and balance. Without optimal range of motion during repetitive movements, mobility can suffer. 

We can help to counteract this limited range of motion by stretching well after any type of aerobic exercise.

POSTURAL DEVIATIONS

Slumped shoulders, bad hip alignment and other postural discrepancies can many times be corrected by stretching the muscles that cause the misalignment. One of the most common problems I see is rounded shoulders. The most basic way to help correct this is by stretching the chest muscles (pectorals). Sometimes, however, a professional is needed to correct more complicated issues.

The postural deviation caused by tight muscles often leads to more serious issues due to improper body mechanics when moving. In many instances, the site of the problem is not the site of the cause. It is a good idea to do a full-body stretching routine instead of trying to diagnose the problem. Stretching will help allow proper movement and, in turn, help certain ailments.

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