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Stretching

The perfect way to maintain or restore muscle condition.

Not so many years ago, 50 or 60, perhaps, we all lead active lifestyles. We were all relatively fit. Most people walked or cycled since cars were expensive, TV was limited and computer games hadn’t been invented so most past-times were usually quite active. We were always on the move and were, probably, tired and stiff at the end of a day but we didn't get backache and RSI in the same way we do now. Nowadays the most exercise many of us get is walking to the car or up a few flights of stairs. We sit in our cars, sit at our desks and operate keyboards and mice, craning our necks and hunching our shoulders. All of this contributing to poor posture and aches and pains. The body is designed to be kept on the move.

Visiting a therapist for a massage is a solution, it is very relaxing and certainly works to relieve aches and pains but is also quite expensive and rather time consuming. What’s more, ideally, it is better to treat a little and often rather than try a complete “fix” in one go.

It is often preferable to do a little on a regular basis and increase muscle length gradually as better results are achieved. By learning a few techniques it is possible to relieve the symptoms of common aches and pains.

There are two main types of stretch: Active and Passive.

Active

PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) (or active) stretching is a physical therapy procedure designed in the 1940s and 1950s.

Isometric contractions are used to prepare the muscle for stretching. Basically the muscle to be treated is stretched gently to its elastic limit, contracted against a resistance, relaxed and then stretched again until it reaches its new elastic limit. This can be repeated a couple of times to increase the length of the muscle but generally it is better to stretch a little over several days rather than try all in one day.

In the 1980s, components of PNF began to be used by sport therapists on healthy athletes. The most common PNF leg or arm positions encourage flexibility and coordination throughout the limb's entire range of motion. PNFis employed to make gains in range of motion to help athletes improve performance. Good range of motion makes better bio-mechanics, reduces fatigue and helps prevent overuse injuries. PNF is practised by physical therapists, massage therapists, athletic trainers and others.

Passive

Passive stretching is a form of stretching whereby a muscle is literally dragged to a new length. This can only achieve a small gain at any one time so is not as effective as active stretching but has an advantage in that it is simple to ensure no pressure is applied to a damaged tendon.

Contact Details

Telephone: 07947 497654

Chiltern Therapies

Marlow

Buckinghamshire SL7 3RL