Home » Community Blog » Blog » Neck

Category: Neck

Stretching

Stretching may take a back seat to your exercise routine. You may think that stretching your hamstrings and calves is just something to be done if you have a few extra minutes before or after pounding out some miles on the treadmill. The main concern is exercising, not stretching, right?Not so fast. Although studies about the benefits of stretching are mixed, stretching may help you improve your joint range of motion, which in turn may help improve your athletic performance and decrease your risk of injury. Understand why stretching can help and how to stretch correctly.Stretching can help improve flexibility, and, consequently, range of motion in your joints. Better flexibility may improve your performance in physical activities or decrease your risk of injuries by helping your joints move through their full range of motion and enabling your muscles to work most effectively.

Stretching also increases blood flow to the muscle. And you may come to enjoy the ritual of stretching before or after hitting the trail, ballet floor or soccer field.

Stretching essentials

Before you plunge into stretching, make sure you do it safely and effectively. While you can stretch anytime, anywhere — in your home, at work, in a hotel room or at the park — you want to be sure to use proper technique. Stretching incorrectly can actually do more harm than good.

Use these tips to keep stretching safe:

  • Don’t consider stretching a warm-up. You may hurt yourself if you stretch cold muscles. So before stretching, warm up with light walking, jogging or biking at low intensity for five to 10 minutes. Or better yet, stretch after you exercise when your muscles are warmed up.Also, consider holding off on stretching before an intense activity, such as sprinting or track and field activities. Some research suggests that pre-event stretching before these types of events may actually decrease performance.Strive for symmetry. Everyone’s genetics for flexibility are a bit different, so rather than striving for that gymnast or ballet dancer degree of motion, focus on having equal flexibility side to side (especially if you have a history of a previous injury).
  • Focus on major muscle groups. When you’re stretching, focus on major muscle groups such as your calves, thighs, hips, lower back, neck and shoulders.Also stretch muscles and joints that you routinely use at work or play. Make sure that you stretch both sides. For instance, if you stretch your left hamstring, be sure to stretch your right hamstring, too.
  • Don’t bounce. Stretch in a smooth movement, without bouncing. Bouncing as you stretch can cause injury to your muscle.
  • Hold your stretch. Hold each stretch for about 30 seconds; in problem areas, you may need to hold for around 60 seconds. Breathe normally as you stretch.
  • Don’t aim for pain. Expect to feel tension while you’re stretching, not pain. If it hurts, you’ve pushed too far. Back off to the point where you don’t feel any pain, then hold the stretch.
  • Make stretches sport specific. Some evidence suggests that it’s helpful to do stretches tailored for your sport or activity. If you play soccer, for instance, you’re more vulnerable to hamstring strains. So opt for stretches that help your hamstrings.
  • Keep up with your stretching. Stretching can be time-consuming. But you can achieve the most benefits by stretching regularly, at least two to three times a week.If you don’t stretch regularly, you risk losing any benefits that stretching offered. For instance, if stretching helped you increase your range of motion, and you stop stretching, your range of motion may decrease again.
  • Bring movement into your stretching. Gentle movement can help you be more flexible in specific movements. The gentle movements of tai chi or yoga, for instance, may be a good way to stretch.And if you’re going to perform a specific activity, such as a kick in martial arts or kicking a soccer ball, do the move slowly and at low intensity at first to get your muscles used to it. Then speed up gradually as your muscles become accustomed to the motion.

“Do I have to stretch?” is a very common question, especially when discussing exercise. It’s a good idea, says the American College of Sports Medicine. The ACSM recommends stretching each of the major muscle groups at least two times a week for 60 seconds per stretch. Staying flexible as you age is a priority to help keep your mobility high as discussed in this weeks previous blogs.

If you have problems with posture or activities, make it a habit to stretch those muscles regularly. If you have back pain from sitting at a desk all day, stretches that reverse that posture can help.

Simple Back Stretchstretching2

Exercise physiologist Mike Bracko recommends doing the “Standing Cat-Camel” as a work-related back stretch. Here’s how:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees bent slightly
  • Lean forward, placing your hands just above your knees.
  • Round your back so that your chest is closed and your shoulders are curved forward.
  • Then arch your back so that your chest opens and your shoulders roll back.
  • Repeat several times.

If your job keeps you in the same position all day, Bracko suggests doing 2-minute stretch breaks to reverse that posture at least every hour.

Strength Training

Whatever your age, strength training is an activity that provides many health benefits for both men and women. Strength training can be done by people who are in good health, as well as by those who have health concerns — such as arthritis or chronic pain.

Combined with regular aerobic exercise, doing an activity like lifting weights two or more times a week can improve your mental, emotional and physical health.

Strength training is known to reduce the symptoms of several health problems and chronic diseases, such as:

  • Arthritis, including osteoarthritis
  • Back pain and other types of pain
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Osteoporosis

While some of the benefits of strength training are for older men and women, it is never too early to start. The major benefits of strength training include:

  • Increased muscle strength. Without use, our muscles waste away as we age. Regular strength training can keep your muscles strong well into the post-retirement years. This can have a profound impact on your ability to function in your daily life.
  • Improved balance and reduced falls. Simple strength and balance training can improve your balance. This can reduce the risk of falling, which is a common problem for older people. Bone fractures from falls can lead to permanent disability and may even lead to death.
  • Stronger bones. Lifting weights or doing other types of resistance exercises puts stress on the bones. In response, the bones grow stronger (denser). This reduces the risk of bone fractures. Post-menopausal women, in particular, can benefit, because they lose 1 to 2 percent of their bone mass each year.
  • Weight control. Building muscle also increases how many calories you burn, because muscle tissue is very active. For this reason, strength training can boost your metabolism, which can help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
  • Improved glucose control. Millions of Americans have type-2 diabetes, a condition that involves elevated levels of glucose in the blood. Left untreated, this condition can lead to heart or kidney problems, and even blindness. Strength training reduces the risk of these conditions by improving the glucose levels in the blood.
  • Better moods and sleep. Like aerobic exercise, strength training can improve your mood, self-confidence and self-esteem. In addition, regular exercise can help you sleep better. Together, these add up to a better overall quality of life.
  • Stronger heart muscle. The muscles of your arms and legs are not the only ones that benefit from strength training. Your heart will also grow stronger with exercise, which shows up as improved aerobic capacity. Even cardiac patients can benefit from doing this type of physical activity three times a week.

It is never too early or too late to start a strength training program. Adults should aim for doing this as least two days a week. The exercises should work all the major muscle groups of the body.

Strength training often involves lifting weights. But other types of resistance exercises also work well — such as using exercise bands or doing bodyweight exercises, such as push-ups or crunches.

If you are physically inactive, have an existing health condition or have concerns about your health, check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

Stabilization

Throughout the past few weeks, we have been discussing treatments that Minnesota Chiropractic and Rehabilitation offers for our patients. This week, we would like to discuss rehabilitation care and how we can help you get on your feet faster after an accident, or for overall rehabilitation for what you have been experiencing. Rehabilitation care is incorporated after your pain is gone, and you have reached the stabilization stage of care. In this stage, you may feel much better, but you still want to receive chiropractic care.

You may be wondering “Why would I keep going back if my pain is gone?!” Your spine has actually been misaligned for a long time and your body has now accepted that misalignment as being correct – the body, muscles and spine must be retrained! This takes time! Unless the spine and joints are retrained with adjustments and kept in the proper position for a longer period of time – your body will naturally go right back into the misaligned condition. Along with chiropractic care, the stabilization stage also includes rehabilitation.

Rehabilitation includes stretching and strengthening exercises taught by our doctor to further improve your condition and help your muscles and other tissues heal more completely. Dr. Boroditsky will teach you a variety of strengthening and stretching exercises to do at home to improve your condition. He may also suggest different exercises such as walking, swimming or biking. Dr. Boroditsky teaches each patient a rehabilitation program that is unique to them, to further help them as much as possible.

When you take the time do these exercises and stretches at home, you will notice yourself not only getting stronger, but your adjustments holding longer and more stabilization throughout your body. In the long run, this will help to prevent further injury or re-injury.

During the correction / restorative phase of your care, you will not have to receive treatment as often as you did during the first phase of care, depending on your particular circumstances.

Do not be discouraged if you have mild flare-ups in your symptoms on occasion. This is normal. Fare-ups are bound to occur during this phase because your body has not fully healed. Depending on the severity of your injury or condition and how long you have been suffering from it will determine how long this phase of care lasts.