Phoenix Ignition Fitness Company

The Benefits of Stretching

by Ron Kennedy • September 12, 2016
Strength training, cardiovascular conditioning, or any sport specific activity that we use for exercise such as hiking or tennis all have their pros and cons of the toll it takes on our body. As we grow older, maintaining mobility can be difficult, especially for those of us who enjoy higher intensity fitness. Muscles and joints weaken and range of movement deteriorates as we age. One of the most effective ways to aid the body in its recovery and adaptation to our fitness lifestyles is stretching.

Personally, I am knowing as somewhat of a master torturer in regards to stretching (which I take a great deal of pride in). Though my intentions are to relieve tension in the muscles, often times from lack of mobility and buildup of lactic acid deep muscle stretching can be a bit discomforting to some, especially those new to the techniques. Yet, the benefits far outweigh the few moments of tension.
 
Stretching helps develop and maintain strength, is great for improving flexibility, and increases circulation and blood flow, providing a greater quality of life and healthy aging. The causes of lower back pain in older adults is commonly a result of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and is caused by the gradual degeneration of cartilage between the facet joints. Typically, the resulting pain in the low back comes and goes but over time osteoarthritis may eventually cause sciatica. Along with Osteoarthritis of the low back, arthritis typically develops in the hips, knees, neck. While osteoarthritis is a natural part of aging and can’t directly be avoided, the resulting pain can be managed by stretching exercises. Regular stretching helps with improving flexibility, range of motion, and elasticity to relieve stiffness in the afflicted joints.

As we age, our body’s water content in connective tissue, such as ligaments and tendons, decreases, resulting in reduced elasticity and flexibility. The tightening of ligaments and tendons in the chest and shoulders in conjunction with years of sitting hunched over at a desk will result in poor posture overtime.  Poor posture is defined by a forward head posture, rounded shoulders and upper back, and forward pressing hips. The natural S-curvature in our spine compresses. This can create pain in the lower back and between the shoulder blades. Improving flexibility is simple with a consistent stretching regimen. This will help loosen tight ligaments, tendons, and muscles to give you a greater range of motion.

Dynamic stretching is a low-intensity form of stretching that utilizes movement to stretch your muscles. As opposed to static stretching, which is stretching while your body is devoid of motion. Along with lengthening your muscles, dynamic stretches will also increase circulation and nutrient flow throughout the body. Thus increasing the body’s energy levels. Obviously as we age increased energy is important in maintaining independence, remaining social, and overall healthy aging.