People invest a lot of money in the search for eternal youth. But one of the most effective, inexpensive and pain-free ways to look and feel younger is to exercise and perform daily stretches that ward off kyphosis (rounding of the thoracic spine, resulting in a hunched shape); that keep the spine mobile; that lengthen the quadriceps to help sustain a tall, lifted posture; and that maintain a healthy range of motion in the hips.
Improving inefficient gait patterns is often a focus among fitness professionals working with older adults. Walking problems can diminish independence and increase injury potential. A recent study suggests that regular stretching of the hip flexor muscles can improve gait patterns among this population. The purpose of a study published in PM&R (2011; 3 , 324–29) was to determine the effectiveness of a 10-week hip flexor stretching program on walking patterns among 82 older adults.
A primary function of muscles is to create tension and produce force for movement of the body’s skeletal system. The intrinsic property of muscles and joints to go through a full or optimal range of motion (ROM) is referred to as flexibility. It is developed through the use of various stretching procedures. Presently, uncertainty exists about some proposed benefits of flexibility, including its effect on injury avoidance, muscle soreness prevention, muscular strength training and performance improvement.
footbar position #1, 2 springs, headrest adjusted for individual
Supine, pelvis and spine neutral. Knees flexed, feet in straps, legs laterally rotated and ankles dorsiflexed. Knees just wider than shoulders, heels together and toes apart. Arms long by sides of body, palms down.
As we age, our hearts beat more slowly and pump less blood. Our lung capacity also decreases. These changes result in decreased maximal oxygen consumption, which causes less oxygen to reach muscles. Oxygen is the life fuel for muscles; without it, they simply cannot work. The decrease in muscle oxygen consumption is one of the main reasons why we slow down, grow weak and lose stamina as we age. Without speed, strength and stamina, we cannot do the basic activities of daily living that allow us to enjoy life, maintain health and remain independent.
There are numerous studies published on the effects of stretching on exercise performance. If you haven’t had time to read and cross-reference them all, you may be interested in a review of the research, published in the September/October issue of Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine (2004; 14 , 267–73).
According to this analysis, stretching immediately before exe...
Some people believe that stretching before exercise lowers your injury risk. However, research has found that mild stretching can cause damage at the cytoskeletal level of the muscle (Bracko 2002). Static stretching has an analgesic effect, a response that the body uses as a
Mobility and stability are essential elements of functional performance. An athlete may have acquired exceptional skill and be able to perform at an elite level; however, if the athlete hasn’t enhanced her foundation of mobility and stability to keep pace with the developing skill, performance m...