There are numerous exercises available, including strength training, indoor cycling, and kickboxing. Other popular activities, such as yoga and Pilates, emphasize flexibility and deliberate movement and are less likely to leave you overheated and out of breath. Now, a new trend has emerged: stretching-only studios. What services are these studios providing, and how will this assist you?
What services do stretch studios provide?
StretchLab, StretchMed, and LYMBYR are just a few of the studios that provide assisted stretching sessions, either one-on-one or in small groups. The purported advantages range from acceptable goals such as increased flexibility and range of motion to more dubious claims such as injury prevention and chronic pain elimination.
"If you participate in certain activities that demand flexibility, such as dancing or gymnastics, stretching may be necessary to preserve a range of motion," says Dr Adam Tenforde, an associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School and a sports medicine physician at Spaulding Rehabilitation and Massachusetts General Brigham.
However, if your goal is to improve your overall health, the evidence for stretching is woefully insufficient, particularly in comparison to the wealth of research supporting the advantages of frequent, moderate physical activity.
"Contrary to common assumption, there is no consistent evidence that stretching aids in injury prevention," Dr Tenforde states. Additionally, if you already have an injury, such as a muscle or joint strain, excessively extending the tissue may aggravate the injury, he says.
Although the "stretch therapists" and "flexologists" at stretching studios may have certain certifications and training, they are unlikely to be trained to identify and treat health-related causes of pain or stiffness. If you've had a musculoskeletal injury in the past or are currently experiencing one, you're much better off seeing a physical therapist who has the experience and training to treat you properly.
Are you experiencing tightness and stiffness?
If you are injury-free but feel tight and stiff, consider taking a yoga session, which can bring additional benefits such as strengthening your balance and assisting you in relaxing and de-stressing. Alternatively, consider tai chi, a moderate, meditative type of exercise that has been shown to improve blood pressure and balance. Another possibility is to receive a massage.
If you choose to try assisted stretching in a studio, Dr Tenforde advises that you listen to your body and convey your feelings to the therapist working on you.
However, you'll likely benefit your general health more by spending that time on a brisk walk or some other form of exercise, he says. The majority of Americans fall short of the federally mandated physical activity standards, which call for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise and muscle-strengthening activities twice weekly. "As physicians, we are more concerned with diseases associated with inactivity than with diseases associated with inflexibility," Dr Tenforde explains.
Want to stretch at home?
Three simple morning exercises — arm sweeps, backbend, and chair pose — can assist in relieving morning stiffness. This is also effective during the day if you spend an excessive amount of time sitting.
Stretching at home has the potential to save you both money and time. These recommendations will assist you in getting the most out of your morning stretches or other flexibility programs performed at home.
Muscles should be warmed up initially. Muscles, like taffy, stretch more easily when they are heated.
Feel no discomfort. Never stretch to the point of pain; always to the point of mild strain.
Maintain proper posture and form. Posture is critical regardless of whether you are sitting, standing, or moving. Stretch photos provide only a portion of the tale; therefore, carefully study directions to ensure proper shape.
Concentrate on the muscle that is being stretched. Often, one side of your body is more constricting than the other. Balance this over time.
Breathe. Maintain a relaxed breathing pattern when stretching rather than holding your breath.
Practice frequently. You'll develop the most flexibility if you stretch frequently – daily, or as frequently as feasible during the week. At a minimum, attempt to stretch twice or three times every week.