Flexibility Training with a Chronic Respiratory Condition

Flexibility training involves activities that aim to stretch your muscles until they’re relaxed and loosened. Several factors affect an individual’s flexibility, including:

  • The structure of the joint
  • The structure of the ligaments and tendons, and
  • The normal tension or length of the surrounding muscles

Importance of Stretching

  • Stretching is an important part of every exercise routine to keep muscles flexible and relaxed, help joints move more freely, and increase range of motion.
  • Stretching can prevent soreness and relieve tension and strain.
  • It is important to stretch daily. Stretching can be done in the car or while watching TV.
  • Remember to breathe slowly and naturally as you stretch!

Benefits of Stretching

Stretching can improve posture

  • Tight muscles can cause poor posture. Specially, the muscles of the chest, back (lower and upper), and hips can cause poor posture if they are tight.

Stretching can decrease back pain

  • This goes hand and hand with posture. If we have poor posture in the upper back, the lower back compensates and can develop pain. Similarly, if we have tight hamstrings or hip flexors, the lower back compensates and can develop pain.

Stretching can help prevent injury

  • If you stretch a muscle too far, it will become strained or torn. If you stretch and increase the range in which a muscle can move, the likelihood of injuring it decreases.

Stretching is a very simple but effective way to increase mental health

  • Stretching can reduce stress, improve your quality of sleep and increase blood circulation – all at the same time!
  • When you stretch, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain.
  • Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body and is often described as “euphoric” – a feeling accompanied by a positive and energizing outlook on life.

Static Stretching

Static stretching is when you slowly stretch a muscle/tendon group and hold the position for a period of time (i.e. 10-30 seconds).

Static stretching can be active or passive.

  • Active static stretching involves holding the stretched position using the strength of your muscle (this is common in many forms of yoga).
  • Passive static stretching is when the position is held with the use of a partner or device (such as an elastic band, barre, or wall).

Stretches are typically repeated 2-4 times for a total of 60 seconds of stretching per muscle.

When to Stretch

It is important to know when to stretch. Stretching can be incorporated as part of a regular cool down at the end of an exercise session. Caution is needed when stretching a fatigued muscle after a training session. If you feel that your muscles are fatigued and weakened, you can perform a light stretch but do NOT stretch to the point of discomfort. Doing so can make you more susceptible to muscle and tendon strains. Joint range of motion can be improved after about 3-4 weeks of regular stretching at a frequency of at least 2-3 times each week.

Remember stretching can promote flexibility, good posture, and relieve pain and/or stress. Talk to your doctor or a health care provider if you have any concerns about stretching.

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