Stretching – How to improve performance
Today we continue our evaluation of stretching and the benefits associated with stretches. We know that stretching helps us with range of motion. Stretching also helps reduce muscle soreness after strenuous exercise. So why do we feel it is okay to skip the stretching? Can you imagine trying to complete a sprint after just getting up from your desk at work? Can you imagine trying to lift over 100 pounds of weight without warming up and stretching the muscles? Now imagine the agony of tearing muscle tissue. Why increase our risk of injury, possibly permanent, when we can take some extra time to be safe?
Do you wear sunscreen to protect yourself from skin cancer? Do you wear your seat belt to avoid serious injury in the event of a serious car accident? Why would you not protect your muscles and do the stretching? Why do we view some actions as necessary and some as optional? Sometimes our choices are motivated by penalty or punishment, but we never view lack of health or skipping components of an exercise program and punishment. Why? Do we feel invincible regarding ill health and disease?
According to Page (2012), we have two types of stretching to choose from. Ballistic stretching is no longer recommended as it involves bouncing at the end of the range of motion, which increases the risk of injury (Page, 2012). Isn’t that what we are trying to avoid? Active stretching is more fluid in movement and after our muscle tissue is warmed up, we take our muscles through a full range of motion (Page, 2012).
Holzgreve, Maltry, Hanel, Schmidt, Bader, Frei, Filmann, Groneberg, Ohlendorf, & van Mark (2020) examined how office work and lack of stretching increased risk of injury. Here we are seeing the combination effect of being sedentary for long periods of time and lack of stretching as it affects the body. Hopefully, we are already aware of the psychological benefits of exercise. Quality of life is impacted by many facets, so remember, just one weak area can have a significant impact upon our health and well-being.
During my tenure as a psychology instructor, most of the focus related to industrial/organizational psychology. The concepts of industrial/organizational psychology examine the employer/employee relationship and the many psychological components that affect job performance. Most often, the employer is seeking to maximize productivity and reduce absenteeism of an employee Holzgreve, et. al., 2020). Employers may offer programs to employees to improve health and well-being because this provides many benefits to the employer and the employee.
The workplace offering assistance to employees regarding exercise, nutrition, and mental health stands to reduce costs associated with medical coverage. There is also the added benefit of the employee perceiving the employer as being caring and seeing the value of the employee. This is important for all parties involved when considering a relationship related to business. Each party typically enjoys more financial benefit as well. The employer does not have an employee who is not engaged, who is constantly calling out sick or who is seeking a new employer. Turnover is more costly than most employers seem to realize.
So, before I begin to ramble too long here today; remember, stretching helps us reduce injury and discomfort. Stretching also helps us release stress and tension being held in muscles and helps us perform better when we do workout. Stretching also adds the benefit of helping us really focus and reduce stress. Similar to meditation, we can use stretching to help us breathe out tension and breathe in relaxation. Remember, stay healthy, stay focused, and stay hydrated. And stay flexible.
Holzgreve, F., Maltry, L., Hänel, J., Schmidt, H., Bader, A., Frei, M., Filmann, N., Groneberg, D. A., Ohlendorf, D., & van Mark, A. (2020). The Office Work and Stretch Training (OST) Study: An Individualized and Standardized Approach to Improve the Quality of Life in Office Workers. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(12), 4522. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17124522
Page P. (2012). Current concepts in muscle stretching for exercise and rehabilitation. International journal of sports physical therapy, 7(1), 109–119.