Prevent injury by stretching

Reid Frye, sophomore dance major, stretches before preforming at Brown Bag qualifiers. (Ellen Smith/The Daily Campus)
The jury is still out on whether or not stretching actually helps with performance. Some research says that stretching is beneficial while others say that it has little to no effect on a workout routine.

The Mayo Clinic acknowledges this fact, but says that stretching can help improve your flexibility, which can improve your athletic performance and decrease your risk of activity-based injury.

One example that The Mayo Clinic gives is a hiker with a tight and inflexible Achilles tendon. While hiking, this person might notice that he don’t have the full range of motion in his ankle.

Over time this might cause the development of tendinitis, which is when the tendon becomes swollen and painful.

If left untreated, this injury could stop this person from enjoying brisk hikes.

By increasing the range of motion of the Achilles tendon through stretching it can decrease the likelihood of developing tendinitis. This also holds true for the other tendons throughout the body.

Stretching is also a great addition to a warm-up routine because it helps increase blood flow. This not only feels good, but also helps the body be more limber and easier to control during the main workout.

Even though stretching can help with flexibly and injury prevention, it is important to use proper technique during a stretching routine.

Start off by focusing on the major muscle groups like the calves, thighs, hips, lower back, neck and shoulders. Also make sure to stretch both the left and right calf.

Stretching should not be done before a warm up. It may increase blood flow, but stretching cold muscle might lead to more harm than good. An easy example is to think of muscles like a rubber band.

Stretching a rubber band that was left in the refrigerator will be very tight, hard to move and if pulled iwll tear or even break.

On the contrary, stretching a rubber band that has been warmed up is easy to do and less likely to break. Taking a light, ten-minute jog or stretching after a workout will help prevent muscles from tearing like the cold rubber band.

Another way to prevent muscle tearing is by not bouncing during a stretching routine.

Bouncing in a stretch might be creating little tears in muscles that leave scar tissue. This scar tissue creates tightness in muscles that decreases flexibility and increases the chance of injury.

Instead of bouncing, The Mayo Clinic suggests just holding a stretch for about 30 seconds and then releasing it. Then repeat the stretch about three or four times before moving to another muscle group.

While doing stretches there may be a little bit of tension, but do not overstretch to the point of feeling pain. The pain felt may cause an injury. Back off to where only tension is felt and hold the stretch.

Also make sure that to stretch on a regular basis. Stretcing only every so often will not result in all of its benefits.

When the body is not stretched for a while it will loose some of its range of motion and have to work hard again to get it back. The Mayo Clinic suggests stretching at least two to three times a week to increase flexibility.

Even though the research on the benefits of stretching is inconclusive, it is still important to keep up a stretching routine to increase flexibility.

Stretching is a something that should be added to a regular workout routine to keep up range of motion and decrease the likelihood of injury.

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