Fitness

Never Mess With Stretching And Here’s The Reasons Why

Stretching should be consistent. Every individual should have a stretching plan. Whether it’s for short-term benefits or helping to extend your physical abilities for years to come – stretching can play a huge role in ensuring you’re in excellent shape. Regardless of the type of your disability and the level of mobility you’re capable of, stretching for 5-10 minutes before you start your day can help your body remain protected for longer. If you’re unable to stretch yourself, a family member or a health professional can help you with your exercise routine and get your body ready for the day ahead.

Various studies have shown that there are numerous benefits of stretching. The more often you stretch your muscles, the longer and more flexible they’ll become. As a result, you’ll

  • increase your range of motion
  • improve flexibility
  • reduce your risk for muscle and joint injury
  • reduce joint and back pain
  • improve your balance, thus reducing your risk of falling
  • improve your posture
  • improve performance in physical activities
  • increase blood flow to the muscles.

Don’t Sleep on Flexibility

When it comes to fitness for individuals with disabilities, flexibility is just as important as aerobic exercise and muscle strengthening. Flexibility helps the body become more limber and promotes a wider range of motion in the muscles and joints. Additionally, flexibility exercises can be very relaxing. There are many ways to incorporate flexibility exercises into one’s daily routine, including:

  • Stretching while lying down
  • Stretching while seated in a wheelchair
  • Tai Chi
  • Yoga

Avoid the Pain

By stretching ahead of any physical exercise, which may indeed just include pushing your manual wheelchair you can help yourself to overcome any potential muscle strains or tears. This can easily occur as a result of repetitious and laborious movements, such as pushing your wheelchair.

Joint Health

Stretching each day not only helps reduce any tension or discomfort you may feel in your shoulders, neck, back, arms, and legs – but it can also increase the range of motion in your joints and improve your posture, not to mention increase blood flow to your muscles and reduce the risk of injury. Consistent Stretching exercises can help extend this range of motion. Much like the previous point of protecting your muscles, stretching can also help you with your joints. This ensures that you’re all warmed up and ready to go before setting about your daily routine, which involves the strenuous movement of pushing your wheelchair.

Maximize Your Exertion

Performing dynamic stretches prior to physical activities has been shown to help prepare your muscles for the activity. It may also help improve your performance in an athletic event or exercise.

Improve Circulation

Performing stretches on a regular basis can increase your circulation. Improved circulation increases blood flow to your muscles, which can shorten your recovery time and reduce muscle soreness.

Stretch Out – Literally

Not to be overlooked by wheelchair users, the fact that our bodies are not designed to be in a seated position for long periods of time. If possible, take up a position on the floor or flat surface and go through your stretching routine. This ensures you can fully stretch out and can work muscles you may not be able to sit in your chair.

Great for Stress Relief

When you’re experiencing stress, there’s a good chance your muscles are tense. That’s because your muscles tend to tighten up in response to physical and emotional stress. Focus on areas of your body where you tend to hold your stress, such as your neck, shoulders, and upper back, and go through a stretching routine to alleviate those areas. Stress headaches can interfere with your daily life as well. In addition to a proper diet, adequate hydration, and plenty of rest, stretching may help reduce the tension you feel from headaches.

For a lot of people, stretching just feels good, and if stretching is consistent, it can help reduce chronic stress and bring us closer to a relaxed state. Stretching can be especially relaxing mentally if you pair it with deep breathing, similar to a yoga or meditation session.

Stretching Specific to Spinal Cord Injuries

Reduces Spasticity

Spasticity happens after a spinal cord injury. It can happen out of the blue or disrupt whatever you’re doing. Stretching on a regular basis can prevent spasms. While it cannot prevent them, stretching will help to reduce them and lower the intensity of the spasms.

Posture

Scoliosis is a side-effect of having an SCI. When you can no longer move your torso muscles, your posture becomes severely affected. Stretching on a regular basis in the back area, especially doing side stretches from your wheelchair can help with posture.

Remain Independent

When you have limited muscle movement, it’s key to keep the muscles you can move limber to complete your daily routine. If you allow the muscles in your arms to become tight, you’ll notice certain activities will become more difficult.

Lower Extremity Swelling

It’s incredibly important to stretch your lower extremities. When larger limbs are not moving, it impacts your blood circulation and can lead to swelling in your legs. Not only is this physically unwanted, but it also can cause skin problems when it comes to wearing shoes. The swelling can cause edema, but if you stretch this can be prevented.

If stretching is consistent then you are maximizing your chance to keep your body and mind in tip-top shape. It’s an aspect you can control. It will help you in day-to-day activities and work for you even when you are unaware. Take up a stretching routine and reap the benefits short-term and long.

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