Benefits Of Stretch

Explore the benefits, types, and best practices of stretching.

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Are you sitting as you read this? If so, chances are high that some of your muscles are in a shortened position. Your hip flexors are likely in a shortened position. Some of your neck and anterior shoulder muscles may be too. If you are reading this on your phone, you may even be developing tightness in your fingers and thumbs.

So it might be time to stretch. Especially if you’re having pain somewhere.

At Sun Physical Therapy, we see everyday the benefits of adding stretching programs to patients’ daily routines. Stretching helps to decompress the body after sustained positioning for such activities as computer work, commuting, and air travel. It literally helps the body unwind. It also improves movement around the joints, elongates your muscles and soft tissue, and even reduces pain. 


I have never stretched before. How do I begin?

If you are new to a stretching program or have orthopedic pain, we recommend that you consult with a licensed physical therapist before beginning a stretching program. Contact Sun Physical Therapy to schedule an appointment today.

What are the types of stretch?

Stretch can be active or passive. It can also be static or dynamic. These are just a few of the ways to categorize stretch. Active stretch involves the person voluntarily stretching their own muscle. Passive stretch is when another person, such as a physical therapist or trainer, assists with the stretch. Static stretch occurs when a muscle is held at a certain length for a period of time, whether a few seconds or a minute or two. Dynamic stretching involves active warm up in which muscles are taken to a stretch position with an active movement such as walking lunges or walking hip circles. Dynamic stretching is often utilized prior to athletic competition to warm up and loosen muscles without making significant changes to muscle length that could potentially decrease functional strength during competition. 

How long should I hold stretches?

Stretch duration varies depending on the newness of the stretch, condition and length of tissue to be stretched, and goals. Generally speaking, if you are new to a stretch and are very restricted in the area that you wish to work on, you may not tolerate holding a stretch for very long. In this case, you may hold a stretch for a few seconds and repeat for a few repetitions with breaks in between. With time, you will find that the potential duration of the stretch likely will increase. Holding a stretch for 30 seconds for 3 or 4 repetitions is a good average for basic static stretches. 

How strong should a stretch be? 

Please note that it is possible to pull a muscle with overly aggressive stretching. To avoid this, keep your stretches in the “gentle” range. If you have any questions about a stretching routine, do not hesitate to contact Sun Physical Therapy.

Can I use special equipment for stretching?

Of course. There are wonderful pieces of equipment out there that can assist with stretching to make it easier and more comfortable. Equipment includes, yoga blocks, stretch straps, foam rollers, exercise balls, etc. Many of these are great tools for making your stretch time as enjoyable as possible.

When should I stretch?

When you stretch depends on your lifestyle. If you have time, set aside a block in your week to dedicate to stretching. But you can also find ways to add stretching to your day. You can stretch as a break between work calls. Or if you have time when you watch television, get on the floor and stretch while watching your favorite shows. Your physical therapist will help you establish a stretch program that works for you and helps you meet your goals.

What are the best ways for me to stretch?

We recommend you design a program that motivates you. What ways do you like to exercise? Do you like videos, an exercise class, or a list of stretches provided by your physical therapist? Do you want to exercise outdoors, in your garage, or in your living room? First decide which plan will be something that you stick with. Then set out to design it. If you need any help, Sun Physical Therapy is here for you. We can help you design a plan that meets your health and wellness goals. 

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