Everyone enjoys a good stretch. The standard of health, comfort, and happiness rests in our ability to move. Supported by our bones, joints, and muscles, we enjoy physical activities such as walking, running, bicycling, and hiking to enhance our quality of life. As we age, joints and muscles become shortened, inflexible, and tight. This may trigger stiffness, muscle strain, joint and back pain, nerve damage, and increased risk of physical injury.
“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” Jim Rohn
Warming up and stretching is a proactive preventative method in our toolbox. Annually, musculoskeletal injuries impact corporate and healthcare industries over $20 billion. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) approximates that indirect and associated costs that include hiring, training, and subsidizing substitute employees add five times to the baseline expense.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), by 2020, 25% of workers will be 55 years of age or older. Therefore, strategies, including regular home and Workplace stretching programs, are gaining momentum and merit.
Given this, people are turning to activities that include stretching, yoga, Cross Fit, Trainer, and Pilates, to improve their flexibility, fitness, and overall physical and mental health.
What is stretching, and how can it help your flexibility?
Stretches are the antidote to high-intensity workouts. Safe movement is an essential component of body muscle plasticity and maintenance. Stretching programs follow detailed guidelines and exercises to minimize muscle and joint damage while improving flexibility, performance, and endurance.
“Fitness is not about being better than someone else; it’s about being better than you used to be.” Live.Better
Research supports the short and long-term benefits of daily stretching. It alleviates strain on overworked muscles, makes moving easier, lessens stress and injury risk, and improves sleep. Stretching for flexibility is not the only benefit. Other advantages include
· Decreases stress
· Diminishes pain and stiffness
· Improves range of motion
· Enhances muscle function and performance
· Reduces the risk of injury
· Minimizes joint wear and tear
· Increases blood flow and circulation
Static stretching, dynamic stretching, and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) are additional forms of value in a stretching program. According to David Nolan, a physical therapist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital, engaging in regular stretching keeps muscles lean, long, and flexible. This prevents the exertion of excessive force on the muscle and protects independence and mobility.
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) is an advanced form of stretching that can increase your range of motion. The PNF method is effective in both one on one stretch as well as group stretches. During the PNF method, based on your Flexologist instructions, you contract and hold certain body muscles for a few seconds or minutes.
Dynamic and Static Stretching
Stretching offers two types of stretches, static stretching or dynamic stretching. Static stretching entails holding a stretch for a few seconds or minutes without any form of movement during the stretch. Dynamic stretching allows for guided movement during the stretch.
Flexologist Training Program (FTP)
A fitness instructor, they must complete an intensive and proprietary Flexologist Training program. The program is a 60-70+ theoretical with an experiential, hands–on practical component. Curriculum study includes the skeletal, muscular system, varied assisted stretching maneuvers, and how to work with clients of all ages and body types. Stretching is perfect for the weekend warriors, to professional athletes, and for those recovering from injuries.
Before beginning any exercise program, seek out trained professionals for advice. There are plenty of excellent YouTube videos, books, and online how-to guides. Remember, to go at your own speed, as you are an individual, and this is not a competition. Be safe and be healthy.
OSHA’s Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders in the Workplace, https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/ergonomics/
OSHA’s Prevention of Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders, https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/o