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Mythbuster Fact or Fiction: Stretching before a workout to help prevent injury?
Stretching was, and for some people still is, thought of as an important ritual to perform before exercising to help avoid or decrease the risk for injury. So does stretching before a workout really prevent injury? Studies show that static stretching before exercise will impair muscle performance and can increase the risk of injury.
What do I do before exercise if I shouldn’t stretch?
Dynamic warm-up! Whether this includes high knees, walking/light jog, lunges, or squats (among many other options), a dynamic warm-up will both warm and loosen your muscles, preparing them for exercise and decreasing the risk of injury. A dynamic warmup is different than flexibility training. Flexibility training is achieved by static stretching, which is holding a single stretch at the end range. As previously mentioned, since a dynamic warmup focuses on warming up and loosening your muscles, the goal is not to stretch or stress the muscles into a new range of motion. Keep your dynamic warm-up pain-free, moderate-intensity, and simple to avoid injury.
When should I stretch?
Static stretching should be done ideally during non-exercise times or after an exercise session. Stretching while at work or home is a perfectly acceptable option- remembering your muscles are “cold” which means be gentle when stretching. Stretching after exercise allows you to push a bit more into your stretches due to the increased tissue temperature and blood flow into the muscles allowing you to deepen your stretches, however, always within a pain-free range.
When you perform a static stretch, you move your muscle into a new range of motion in hopes of lengthening the shortened muscle over time. It is important to maintain and increase muscle length so muscles are not stretched beyond their limitation with sport, activity, or exercise. Muscle injury often occurs when a shortened muscle is pushed into a new range during an activity (example: a hurdler injured during a jump due to a short hamstring muscle). Also, maintaining flexibility can help improve balance and posture, decrease general pain, and improve overall mobility and function.
How long do I stretch?
In general, 30-45 seconds per stretch is recommended, performed multiple times throughout the day if possible. Stretches can be held longer if desired and if time is available. General rules with stretching include:
- Make your stretching pain-free
- Move into stretches slowly
- Perform the stretches on a daily basis
Answer to this myth-buster: Fiction!
Looking for an exercise program? The therapists at Kinetic Physical Therapy can help work with you to create the perfect program that fits your needs. Schedule your appointment
Pain Or Injury? Let Us Take The First Look.
Have a sprain, strain, or nagging pain? Schedule an in-clinic assessment.
Your assessment is a one-on-one conversation about your goals with one of our licensed healthcare experts. We listen carefully to fully evaluate your complaint so we can recommend the best treatment option for you.
Who is this for?
Our assessment is not just for athletes and weekend warriors. No matter how your pain starts — from walking downstairs to work in the garden — let us help you get back to doing the things you love.
What can you expect:
- 30-minute assessment about your pain or injury.
- Convenient scheduling with appointments available at the time that works best for you.
- Provide you with recommendations for the next steps in your recovery. This may even mean starting physical therapy the same day.
About Physical Therapy
The best physical therapy outcomes happen when patients and therapists BOTH understand the plan of care, treatment techniques, and rationale behind the methodology used during every session. The patient should have a clear understanding of why each exercise, stretch, or manual technique is performed during their session, the importance of it, as well as what they can do between sessions to maximize recovery. All patients leave every session with ‘homework’ to assist in maintaining the progress made in treatment sessions. This helps patients keep forward momentum throughout the course of rehabilitation.
Every patient who rehabs with our Physical Therapy maintains open communication about their progress and status of the injury so that every exercise and technique used is applicable for how the patient is feeling that day. Depending on how the patient is feeling, day-to-day treatments will vary.
We treat a wide range of orthopedic ailments; from post-surgical day one to maintenance treatment for elite-level performance athletes. Depending on what the need is of the patient, sessions vary from slow stabilization exercises to high-level weighted precision movements.
Six Exercises for Older Adults During Quarantine
Note: This program is designed for older adults who are not at risk for overexertion or injury during exercise. If you experience pain while doing any of these exercises or have any questions, consult your doctor or physical therapist.
1. Lower body: hip bridges.
Directions: While lying on your back in bed, bend your knees, and put your feet flat on the bed. Push up through your feet to get your buttocks off the bed. Hold your buttocks lifted off the bed for three seconds. Gently lower yourself back down and repeat 10 times.
2. Lower body: ankle pumps.
Directions: While lying in bed and your legs out straight, focus on moving your ankle. Slowly move your ankle up, so your big toe is pointed toward your nose. Then, slowly bring your ankle down, like you’re stepping on a gas pedal. Repeat 20 times on each side.
3. Upper body: arm Ts.
Directions: Lay on your back in bed with your knees bent or straight and your head facing the ceiling. Put your arms out straight to either side, like you are making a T with your body. Keeping your arms straight, slowly bring your hands together to meet in the middle and give yourself a high-five. Slowly lower your arms to the bed. Repeat 20 times.
These exercises can be done while seated in a chair with back support or seated on the edge of the bed or chair for those who are able.
4. Lower body: kicks.
Directions: While sitting upright with your knees bent, slowly straighten one leg. Straighten the leg, so your foot is off the ground when your leg is straight. Slowly bend the knee back to the starting position. Repeat 20 times on each side.
5. Lower body: thigh squeezes.
Directions: Find an object such as a folded towel or pillow. Sit down with bent knees, feet flat on the floor, and put the object between your thighs. Gently squeeze the object with your legs, holding the squeeze for five seconds. Slowly release the squeeze and repeat 20 times.
6. Upper body: arm circles.
Directions: While seated, focus on sitting up tall. Open your arms out to your side with your elbows straight, forming a T shape with your arms. Draw small circles with your hands, moving your arms from your shoulder. Repeat 20 times forward and 20 times backward.
COVID-19 has caused many changes to life for everyone, but doing what you can to maintain your body until you can get back to the activities that you enjoy will help. Keep moving now with this safe, simple home exercise program, so you’ll still be grooving after the pandemic. Medicine can sometimes add days to life, but being physically active can add life to our days. A physical therapist can help.
We Believe in Achieving our Patients’ Goals.
In our Physical Therapy clinic, we believe in achieving our patients’ goals.
For a complete recovery after injury, the body needs to be recalibrated to ensure re-injury does not occur. During physical therapy sessions, programs are designed to recover from the acute injury and to address any dysfunctional compensations that were developed while injured.
Patients are guided through a series of movement patterns to determine where the next ‘weakest link’ may be in the body. Educating our patients plays a HUGE role in recovery. After the initial evaluation, patients will understand their injury, and what they need to do in order to recover quickly and safely.
What is Anodyne Therapy?
The Anodyne® Infrared Therapy Systems are medical devices indicated to increase circulation and reduce pain, stiffness, and muscle spasm – and are manufactured in Tampa, Florida by Anodyne Therapy LLC. The Anodyne Therapy System was the first infrared light therapy product cleared by the FDA (1994), and it remains the premier evidence-based light therapy product on the market today.
Anodyne Therapy uses only infrared light-emitting diodes (LEDs) because infrared light penetrates more deeply into the body and works better than red or blue light, for instance. While we cannot see infrared, our bodies respond to infrared with increased circulation and reduced pain. This video shows the effect of the infrared from the Anodyne Therapy pad. You can see the light passing through the cracks of the fingers, as well as through the skin. However, you can also see that the blood vessels are dark, which shows that the infrared light is being absorbed into the blood vessels.
Physical Therapists, Chiropractors, Physicians, and Nurses treat patients in their offices with Anodyne Therapy. Patients just like you are using Anodyne Therapy for drug-free pain relief. They love the convenience of treating themselves when they want in the comfort of their own homes. Contact us today to learn more.