The Importance of Routine Stretching and Routine Massage

Image of Ellie Luzar - Associate Sports Massage Therapist at b2 Chalfont clinic

You may think of stretching as something only necessary to those who are active and involved in sports. But we all need to stretch in order to maintain our mobility and independence.

Why stretching is so important

Stretching should be part of our daily routines. It keeps the muscles flexible, strong and healthy, which is needed to maintain an effective range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you want to use the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend fully, they may become damaged from suddenly being stretched. In turn it puts you at risk for joint pains, strains and muscle damage. Injured muscles may not be strong enough to support the joints which can lead to a joint injury.

Regular stretching keeps muscles long and flexible, meaning exertion won’t put too much force on the muscle itself. Healthy muscles also help with balance and avoiding falls. The idea of daily stretching may seem overwhelming, however you don’t have to stretch every muscle you have. The areas critical for mobility are in your lower extremities (calves, hamstrings, hip flexors and quadriceps). Stretching your shoulders, neck and lower back is also beneficial. After seeing a practitioner you may be recommended certain stretches to carry out daily.

The importance of committing to the process

Unfortunately, stretching once today wont magically give you perfect flexibility. It is something carried out over time and it’s essential to remain committed to the process. The muscle tension and tightness may have built up over months, so you’re not going to be perfectly flexible after one or two sessions.

It used to be believed that stretching was necessary to warm up the muscles and prepare them for activity. However, stretching the muscles before they’re warmed up can actually damage them. When the body and muscles are cold, the fibres aren’t prepared and may be damaged. If you exercise first, you’ll get blood flow to the area and that makes the tissue more pliable and amenable to change.

The benefits of Sports massage

Massage is proven to release and reduce tension in muscles, improve circulation and encourage the removal of waste products. Massage also helps increase flexibility, increase healing and break down adhesions. It is essential for the maintenance of healthy muscles, maximising performance and stretching specific localised areas of tissue. Massage can also benefit individuals mentally by reducing stress and promoting relaxation. Massage can benefit anyone and everyone, no matter the lifestyle!

A regular massage treatment programme can be devised by a practitioner based on the individuals requirements. It can concentrate on particular muscle groups to help maintain or improve the range of movement and flexibility and can target any areas which are likely to cause the individual trouble or injuries to assist in their prevention.

So, is it more important to stretch regularly or have a routine massage?

It is essential to recognise that while they overlap in benefits, they serve distinct purposes. Massage can reach deeper layers of muscle, fascia and other soft tissues than stretching alone. The duration of the benefits can also be different, you should be stretching daily to really notice an improvement, whereas routine maintenance massages can be every 4-6 weeks depending on the individual.

Rather than viewing routine massage and stretching as substitutes, consider the synergy of their combined benefits. Between massage sessions you should be stretching which can prolong the benefits of the massage.

Incorporating both regular stretching and massage into your routine can optimise muscle health, flexibility and overall well-being.

If you want to know more about the benefits of routine stretching and routine massage, book a consultation with one of our Sports massage therapists here!

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