Benefits of Stretching to Manage Pain

Physical Therapists are highly skilled medical professionals and movement specialists, trained in Anatomy and Physiology, as well as Kinesiology. The job duties of physical therapists include rehabilitation and strengthening for a varying number of musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, and neurologic conditions including but not limited to orthopedic injuries, arthritis, pre-operative, post-operative, Parkinson’s Disease, CVA, MS, etc.


How A Physical Therapist Can Help You

Licensed physical therapists can be found in a range of healthcare settings including outpatient offices, private practices, hospitals, rehab centers, nursing homes, home health, sports and fitness settings, schools, hospices, occupational settings, government agencies, and research centers.

Physical Therapists will perform skilled evaluations to determine extent of injury, determine the resultant impairments such as decreased strength, decreased range of motion, and determine an appropriate plan of care aimed at decreasing pain and improving function.

A typical physical therapy plan of care will aim at improved mobility and movement. The Injury Care Center (ICC) provides medical services to those injured at work, in a motor vehicle accidents, and others. The team at the ICC includes multiple board-certified physicians and specialists.

They provide specialty-trained physical therapists and chiropractors while working to collaborate with specialists in orthopedics, neurologists, pain management and psychologists as well as diagnostic groups for MRI, CT Scans, EMG, FCE, Concussion and balance testing. Orthopedic physical therapy treats musculoskeletal injuries, involving the muscles, bones, ligaments, fascia’s, and tendons.

It is suitable for medical conditions such as fractures, sprains, tendonitis, bursitis, chronic medical problems, and rehabilitation or recovery from orthopedic surgery. This includes injuries from car accidents, on the job, or personal injury such as a slip and fall. Patients may undergo treatment with joint mobilizations, manual therapy, strength training, mobility training, and other modalities.

Pain is a very complex and liming factor that often impacts an individual’s performance at home, work, and in recreation. Individuals experiencing musculoskeletal pain from arthritis, a work related or motor vehicle injury may experience increased stiffness, difficulty walking, bending, lifting, and performing simple daily tasks such as opening and jar or going to the grocery store.

Decreased function, and increased pain can, in turn, lead to inactivity. Inactivity can cause further stiffness or restriction to range of motion, soft tissue extensibility, and normal human movement. 


What Type of Stretching is Right For You?

Typically physical therapists will recommend stretches as a main intervention to improve muscle length, improve posture, and decrease complaints of pain and stiffness. Following a principle of TERT (Total End Range Time) research has proven that in order to change the length of soft tissue, a gentle sustained stretch of 2 minutes is most beneficial. Bouncing or “ballistic” stretching, holding for quick counts of 5 seconds, has been found to have no benefit. 

 Muscles can become tight as result of soreness and stress. When muscles become tight, it is important to stretch these muscles to increase blood flow reduce tension. Once these previously tense muscles are stretched, movement becomes more fluid-like and soreness is reduced. Flexibility

Stretching improves flexibility. The more you stretch, the more you move your muscles, and the more flexible you become. Over time, stretching will become easier for your body which results in improved flexibility. Stretches are effective with, posture, preventing injuries, increasing nutrients, and reducing muscle soreness. Stretches will help to encourage improvement anatomical alignment, leading to less slouching.

The more that muscles are prepared for increased movement or demand for exercise, the more the likelihood of injury is decreased. When muscles are warm and stretched, movement becomes easier and more fluid-like which helps with injury prevention. This stimulates water and synovial fluid at the joints, which act as lubricant for improved gliding and joint mechanics. Stretches will also increase blood and nutrient supply to muscles.

Because stretching allows blood to flow through the body, the nutrients in the blood are being carried and spread out all throughout the body as well. An increased blood and nutrient supply also helps reduce soreness.

The more frequently stretching is performed, the more benefits the body and the mind will receive. Stretching is a great way to take a break from a busy work day to recharge the body and mind. This in turn will help overall energy levels and feelings of invigoration. This is especially important following a motor vehicle accident or any work related injury. 

Stretching can be broken into two categories: Static and dynamic stretches. Dynamic stretches follow the SAID principle (specific adaptations of imposed demand) which essentially states that if you are going to play soccer, you should play soccer to stretch and warm up beforehand.

If you are going to be running, you should perform light jogging or other dynamic plyometric activity to stretch and warm up. This properly prepares the muscles for the activities that they are going to be performing. 

Static stretches include maintaining a still, prolonged position for most ideally, a count of 2 minutes. This static stretching is most beneficial following increased activity or exercise. Some specific exercise classes and lifestyles aim at stretching an improved length: these include yoga and Pilates. These are great changes that anyone can add to their routine with proper education and training.

Stretching should not be a time consuming task. It can take as simple as 10 minutes out of each day, at 2-3 days a week to achieve the most benefits. Irregular stretching schedules do not allow to maintain a consistent range of motion. Getting in the habit of performing stretches multiple time a week will increase flexibility.