The Importance of Stretching

By: Dr. Donna A. Pontoriero, Chiropractor


Summer is almost here! Maybe you are getting into shape for the summer or maybe you plan on doing more outdoor activities this summer. Even if all you plan to do this summer is go down the shore. You shouldn't ignore your muscles.

Your muscles need to be warmed up before use to help reduce your chance of possible injury. If your muscles are imbalanced due to a week muscle on one side, it will allow the stronger muscle to pull the bone the muscle attaches to out of place. This can secondarily lead to a pinched nerve from the malpositioned bone, inflamed joint or irregular joint surface.

Bones in your body do not just move out of place by themselves. This incorrect movement is usually due to an injured or weak muscle or ligament. Stretching, done correctly, reduces your chance of injury to your ligaments and muscles.

Your muscles closely resemble the qualities of a rubber band. Try stretching a cold rubber band and you will find that it does not stretch as far as it does when it is heated. The same is true of your muscles. The way to bring heat into your muscles is by moving them; the increased blood flow produces more heat. Slow stretching will increase blood flow, reduce muscles tension, increase range of motion, prevent injury and make you feel good.

Stretching should be done in the morning, at work to release tension, after staying in one position for a long period of time (sitting in your car stuck in the summer traffic on the Parkway), when you feel stiff, and before exercising. Remember, your muscles can not distinguish between whether you are at the gym or doing physical labor at work or in your garden. Your muscles need to be stretched before doing either activity.

A doctor of chiropractic will do muscle testing to see if there is an imbalance, joint misalignment, or pinched nerve. He or she can also show you the proper way to stretch.