Benefits of Stretching for Joint Health
Stretching: It’s not the most glamorous part of the workout, but it might be the most important. The focus on fitness websites and magazines is on getting the work done with barbells, dumbbells, and machines. If you’re bound to skip any part of the workout, it’s going to be the stretching at the conclusion.
Studies show that stretching isn’t just for the flexible-focused, it can have a significantly positive impact on your joints and muscle tissue. Let’s take a look at the benefits of stretching and how it can help your joints.
Types of Stretching
There are several types of stretching to consider but we’ll be focusing on the first: static stretching.
Static Stretching: The first thing you think about when you hear the word stretching, it involves taking a muscle group, moving it in a certain direction to elongate the muscle, and holding this position for an extended period of time.
Dynamic Stretching: A complement to static stretching, dynamic stretching is when you perform movements that will mimic your upcoming workout with very little intensity. For example, if you’ll be performing a barbell squat, the dynamic stretching equivalent would be half body-weight squats.
PNF Stretching: An advanced form of stretching, this is when you relax the muscle during a passive stretch, contract it, then release and go into a deeper held stretch.
Ballistic Stretching: It’s worth mentioning ballistic stretching as it is a form to avoid. Ballistic stretching relies on bouncing on connective tissue, which put your joints at risk for tears and damage. Do not perform ballistic stretching.
Benefits of Stretching
Joint Flexibility: If you want to be able to touch your toes or simply bend over without feeling tightness, stretching can help. Stretching has been shown to improve the flexibility of the joints and muscle tissue, which feeds into the other benefits of range of motion and injury risk.
Joint Range of Motion: A study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science observed the effects of stretching on the hamstrings and ankles of 45 students in their 20s. These muscle groups are known to be problem areas. At the conclusion of the study, researchers agreed that static stretching was a safe and effective way to improve the range of motion of the ankle and other muscle groups.
Risk of Injury: Since static stretching can improve joint range of motion, some experts conclude that your risk for injury will decrease. In the study mentioned above, researchers reported that “stretching is effective in preventing damage,” and it should be used before and after a workout session to see the best benefits.
How Often Should You Stretch?
Ideally, you will stretch every day. This will provide the highest level of results and benefits. Aim for at least 5 days per week.
How Long Should I Hold a Stretch?
If you’re going to stretch before a workout, hold each static stretch for between 15 to 30 seconds. Make sure to move around during your workouts in between sets. Once you finish, stretch again, holding each one for up to 60 seconds.
How Else Can I Support My Joint Health?
Along with a healthy diet and exercise program, you can take joint health supplements that contain proven ingredients such as glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM.
Do You Stretch?
What benefits have you noticed? Think stretching is useless? Have questions about the benefits of stretching? Let us know in the comments below!
Written by David Sautter
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.