To Stretch or Not to Stretch by Kailee Kline – #fitnessfriday
Experts have long debated the merits of stretching. Some believe that stretching has a relaxing effect on the body, helps to prevent injuries and soreness as well as improves flexibility and performance.
From a physiological perspective stretching makes sense. As we age, tendons begin to shorten and tighten, muscles tend to lose their elasticity and overall flexibility is reduced. As a result, everyday movements such as sitting cross-legged and reaching behind or upwards can become uncomfortable or even painful. Stretching helps to offset the effects of aging and keeps our muscles supple and our joints flexible.
Staying flexible is one of the keys to good posture. For example, when the muscles in the front of our neck are tight, our head tilts forward and overtime an unattractive hump can form at the base of the neck. Tight musculature in the chest can lead to rounded shoulders and can even affect our ability to breathe deeply.
Anatomy of a Stretch
When muscles cause a joint to move, it is a team effort. First, there are the muscles that initiate the movement and their assistants. Then, there are those that stabilize and others that oppose the movement and return the limb to its initial position. Movement is a complicated process. That is why it is important to stretch all the muscles around a joint and not just focus on the “tight” ones such as the hamstrings or quadriceps.
Stretching to Improve your Immune System
With all the talk about detox lately, what about the state of our immune system. It is our main purveyor of anti-toxins and defends us against invaders such as bacteria.
Unlike our circulatory system that has a mighty pump, our heart and veins with valves to help it deliver nutrients and remove wastes our lymph system is dependent on movement.
Stretching and walking stimulate the flow of lymph and thus the immune system. Combining deep breathing (diagrammatic) with the movement helps to pump the lymph towards the heart, allowing it to be filtered and “cleaned” by the immune system cells. Something similar occurs when we stretch our muscles.
Stretches are most effective when muscles are warm. When combined with exercise, stretches should be done following a warm up and prior to a cool down. Done on their own, stretches should follow a warm bath or a shower.
Massage Therapy and a Restorative Exercise program partnered with stretching makes for strong, conditioned healthy muscles and good overall health.
Kailee Kline is the founder and president of Healthwinds, a health and wellness spa in midtown Toronto. Kline got her big break when she started working for the King Ranch Health Spa and Fitness Resort, located in King City, ON. Her time at King Ranch, travels to Europe, and firsthand experience with Europe’s unique spa quality and treatments inspired her to bring the philosophies of combining health, spa, and fitness home to Ontario. Since then, she has become the founding president of Premier Spas of Ontario which has grown from 12 founding members to 39 spas over four years.
Visit: Healthwinds Spa