Stretch It Out
“The definition of stretching is the straightening or extending of one’s body or a part of the body to its full length, typically so as to tighten one’s muscles or in order to reach something” (dictionary.com). That is just the generic definition that one will find when they google “definition of stretching”. Various stretches target different muscles and other areas of the body. People stretch for different reasons, but according to Acefitness.org, the main reasons people stretch are to decrease muscle stiffness, increase range of motion, reduce risk of injury, help relieve post-exercise aches and pains, improve posture, help reduce or manage stress, reduce muscular tension and enhance muscular relaxation, improve mechanical efficiency and overall functional performance, prepare the body for the stress of exercise, promote circulation, and decrease the risk of low-back pain. People doubt that stretching is helpful in some instances, but numerous facts explain how stretching can benefit the lives of people everyday.
Stretching is not a new idea that was recently introduced by “tree-huggers”, or someone who wanted to be at one with nature:
Ancient Greeks used stretching in gymnastic training that included health maintenance, athletics and military physical training. Stretching in the context of manual therapy can be traced back to Hippocrates and Galen, chief physician to the gladiators in Pergamum from A.D.157 and therefore probably the original sports therapist. (Tierney)
Stretching has been around for hundreds of years and has some of the same purposes now as it did back in A.D.157. It is recommended that gymnasts and athletes stretch before they tumble, perform a routine, or take part in any sports-like activities. Gymnasts use muscles in the upper torso, core, hips, legs, and arms. Brad Walker says, “It is important for a gymnast to follow a good strengthening and stretching program for these muscles to keep them ready for competition and practice.” Gymnasts and coaches know the importance of stretching before a performance or practice to keep from injuring themselves. Gymnastic stretches can be drastic because gymnasts want to stretch their muscles as far as they will go to make their performances or practices the best that they can make them. (see Figure 1).
Figure 1. “Gymnasts”. .
Other athletes also stretch before games and practices, but they do not have as strenuous stretches as gymnasts do. Athletes typically stretch their arms and legs and any other regions of their body that may tend to cramp. There are sports trainers who are typically at sporting events, and their job is to reduce and treat injuries. Sports trainers are supposed to be trained to be able to stretch muscles, such as hamstrings and shoulder muscles. Baseball pitchers tend to have problems with their shoulders and...