Stretching & Prehabilitation
A relatively recent trend ‘prehab’ looks to prevent injuries from occurring and reduce the incidence of injury through training programs. They primarily focus on core stability, co-ordination, strength and balance work through the body, incorporating sports specific exercises. ‘Prehab’ tends to be implemented in pre-season and progressed and adapted as the sporting season goes on. Recent studies have shown for ‘prehab’ programs to be effective in reducing the occurrence of injuries.
Stretching is the lengthening of muscles in order to increase muscle flexibility and joint range of motion. Stretching activities are an important part of any exercise or rehabilitation. They are used to warm the body up prior to activity thus decreasing the risk of injury. Stretching will benefit all ages. The main benefits of stretching are:
- Increased flexibility and joint range of motion- flexible muscles can improve your daily/sport performance. Flexibility tends to diminish as you get older but you can regain and maintain it. Task such as bending can become easier and less tiring. Sports specific such as kicking through a ball, if the hamstrings are tight this can reduce power, increase pressure on the lower back. Stretching will reduce hamstring tightness, reduce pressure on the lower back and increase performance.
- Improved circulation- stretching increases blood flow to your muscles. Blood flowing to your muscles brings nourishment and gets rid of waste products in the muscle tissue. Improved circulation can help reduce recovery time.
- Improved posture- frequent stretching can help keep your muscles from tightening, this will allow you to maintain good posture, having a good posture can minimize discomfort and keep aches/pains at a minimum.
- Stress relief- stretching relaxes tight muscles that often accompany stress. If the shoulder/neck muscles are very tight this can cause headaches, stretching will release these muscles and reduces headaches.
- Enhanced coordination- Maintaining the full range of motion through your joints can improve balance. Coordination and balance will keep you mobile and less prone to injury from falls, especially as you get older.
It is essential to practice proper stretching techniques. Doing so will allow you to avoid any unnecessary injury.
- Warm up- stretching muscles when they are cold increases the risk of pulled muscles. This should be done prior to any activity.
- Hold stretches- Stretches need to be held for at least 20 seconds. It takes time to lengthen tissues safely.
- Do not bounce- Bouncing whilst stretching can cause small tears (microtears) in the muscle; this will leave scar tissue as the muscle heals. The scar tissue tightens the muscle even further, making you less flexible, more prone to pain/injury.
- Pain free- you shouldn’t feel pain as you stretch, if you are the ease the stretch back off to the point where you don’t feel any pain, then hold and stretch.
- Breathe-don’t hold your breath whilst you’re stretching, relax and breathe freely.
- Stretch both sides- make sure your joint range of motion is as equal as possible on each side of the body.
- Stretch before and after activity- Light stretching after your warm up followed by stretching after activity.
Theraband are brilliant to use to stretch with and as a tool for rehabilitation (strengthening exercises). Therabands are given out to all patients that visit Bespoke Injury Management free of charge.
Hamstring stretch used to release muscles, reduce tension in lower back and hamstrings.