I know you've heard it time and time again from your coach, trainer, massage therapist, or even your friend- "stretching is good for you". But why is it so good? Working in the industry of helping bodies, there a few things that I have learned that, I hope, will help answer this question for you.
First, a little background. Muscles are attached to bones by tendons and can only do 2 things: contract and relax. The body has so many different sizes, shapes, and orientations of muscles so that it is able to move the bones of skeleton in the direction you want them to go. This is a complicated process of thinking, sending signals down nerves, and a chemical release in order to stimulate a muscle to "fire" and shorten. It's not something we think much about, but a lot goes in to one little muscle fiber contracting. So taking all that into consideration, think of how often we use our muscles to do things everyday. You are using muscles as soon as you wake up in the morning until you go to bed at night, even at rest while you are sleeping, so isn't it a wonder we don't have more muscle issues!
Now, what to do about all this tension? Help them! Stretching is one of my favorite ways to keep my body feeling at it's best. There is a big difference between going for a run and immediately sitting back at your desk or in the car and gong for a run with a post stretch before getting back to the daily grind. When muscles move they create a bi-product that will linger in it's fibers, we've heard this commonly referred to as lactic acid. Stretching helps move bi-product fluids out of the muscle, allowing room for new, healthy fluids to come in to repair and heal. Why do we care if the muscle is healthy? A healthy muscle functions better, allows for more range of motion and flexibility, doesn't allow for a plethora of trigger points to accrue, and overall makes you feel better and more functional.
Funny that I am writing about stretching in a massage blog, right? Fun fact: massage and stretching go hand in hand! They work in similar fashions to help keep muscle tissue healthy, which is why some massages include stretches. A massage therapist needs to use all the tools in their knowledge belt in order to help the client with the aches and pains they are coming in for. This is the goal! Us massage therapists want you to be a healthy body, which sadly means that you don't always need us and we might not get to see you as often. But we are here for you when something new arises or you need a friendly reminder of what your body is supposed to feel like and how to help it! We love seeing clients feel better and be happy! So keep up the stretching and feel free to ask any questions you might have about it or anything else!