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Hamlet's Fitness

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Get the Most Out of Stretching

If your body has structural limitations, particularly involving the joints of the spine and pelvis, then you can run into difficulties when trying to stretch. Your spinal joints and sacroiliac joints (the big joints of the pelvis) need to be freely movable in order to get the most out of stretching and in order to avoid potential problems. Restricted mobility of these important joints will often cause tight muscles, and tight muscles can cause muscle pain and muscle injuries.

Your chiropractor is an expert in detecting the presence of these mechanical problems and in correcting the underlying causes. Regular chiropractic care helps keep your body flexible and functioning at its peak, helping you get the most out of all your exercise and fitness activities.

"To stretch or not to stretch." That wasn't exactly Hamlet's question. The Prince of Denmark had matters of state to consider, especially the most effective method to avenge the murder of his father. Getting ready for his next fencing lesson had taken low priority.

But for the rest of us who aren't Nordic princes, matters of fitness are in fact akin to matters of state, namely the state of our bodies. Your fitness choices are critically important to your health and well-being. Also, your overall approach to fitness activities matters a great deal, such as how you get ready to do the exercise things you're going to do.

The question of stretching has been debated for many years, going back to the early days of popularized forms of strength training in the 1960s.1,2,3 "To stretch or not to stretch" really was and continues to be the question. Proponents of stretching actively and vigorously defend their position. Those who believe that stretching has no value, or may even be harmful, are equally assertive. There is evidence in the scientific literature to support both sides. A person who wishes to derive the greatest benefit from her time spent exercising is, like Hamlet, in quite a quandary.

But there's no need to vacillate and mimic Hamlet's notorious exploration of doubt and indecision. The way forward, as always, is to do what works for you. For example, if you are naturally flexible there might not be a need for stretching. People who can just flop over and put their hands on the floor from a standing position already have one benefit that stretching provides. Their hamstrings and lower back muscles are already pretty loose. A contrasting example is the person with naturally tight muscles. Many such people would actually strain a back muscle or a hamstring if they tried to bend over and touch the floor without any preparation.

In the world of fitness, what works for one person does not necessarily work for another. If you're a person who would benefit from stretching, you need to stretch. But not everybody will benefit. For some, time spent stretching is time wasted. You find out by stretching before a few exercise sessions. If your muscles feel "long" and limber and your joints feel freely moveable, then stretching is probably a good thing to do. If your muscles and joints don't feel any different from the way they usually do, in other words, you were already pretty loose to begin with and stretching didn't add any noticeable benefit, then you're probably a person who doesn't need to stretch.

If you're stretching, the next question becomes whether to stretch before or after exercise. Again, there are proponents of each approach and some authorities suggest that stretching both before and after is the way to go. Explore the various possibilities and determine the most effective method for you. Most importantly, get regular vigorous exercise and have fun doing it.

1Gartley RM, Prosser JL: Stretching to prevent musculoskeletal injuries. An approach to workplace wellness. AAOHN 59(6):247-252, 2011

2Stojanovic MD, Ostojic SM: Stretching and injury prevention in football: current perspectives. Res Sports Med 19(2):73-91, 2011

3Samukawa M, et al: The effects of dynamic stretching on plantar flexor muscle-tendon tissue properties. Man Ther August 2, 2011 (Epub ahead of print)

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Testimonial

I slipped on ice in December, landing hard on my behind. I was in excruciating pain and could barely move. It was a Saturday night but I called the office and left a message (new patient, too, found them on Google.) I received a call back first thing Monday morning, they got me right in that day, and I just completed my 3- month treatment plan. I feel so much better and am happy to have found Dr. Ide and his staff.

    ~Amy Hawker
     Fenton, MI

Dr. Ide and his staff are awesome. I had all but given up and I saw his ad. I am s happy to be out of partial pain and I have only gone twice, I cannot wait for the end results. Just to be pain free. Dr. Ide, I thank you so much.

    ~Patsy Dimond-Spencer
     Fenton, MI

Dr. Ide and his staff have given me my life back. The day I called to make my first appointment I had been suffering from a migraine and severe neck pain for 6 days. This was also after receiving multiple pain injections from my primary physician with no relief. His staff not only verified my insurance was accepted at this location before even offering me an appointment time (which multiple offices will not do this) over the phone but I was able to make an appointment for the same day. Dr. Ide took the time to obtain pertinent patient history and not only explain but he also showed me on my x-rays why I was experiencing pain. He addressed the root of the problem instead of pushing prescriptions to subside your symptoms. HE discussed my POA in detail and reiterated why finishing therapy and continuing home therapy was important. I was hesitant and nervous about my first adjustment but again, he took the time to walk me through each step. Paired with my weekly adjustments I also receive massage therapy. Monica, the massage therapist is incredible. She takes the time to ask specific questions before the massage to ensure she provides the best care possible. Kasey, Dr. Ide's assistant is extremely personable and continues to make sure you feel comfortable throughout your visit. The front staff also provides a warm and welcoming environment. Within my first month of treatment, I'm able to go das without a headache now and I have reduced the frequency of my pain medication. I highly recommend Dr. Ide and his staff!

    ~Leah Craig
     Fenton, MI

Very friendly staff and knowledgeable doctor! After doing a 3 month program, I no longer have daily headaches, back pain or neck pain. Most doctor's adjust your back and send you on your way - Dr. Ide makes sure to turn it into a lifestyle change by improving your posture and fixing any issues you may have. I would definitely recommend him over any chiropractor.

    ~Lauren Dunigan
     Fenton, MI

I always have good service and leave feeling good! The people are nice and all know my name. I really like how they do business for senior citizens... that's a big plus!

    ~Nancy Matson
     Fenton, MI

Very extensive in the examination. Not like other chiropractors I'd seen who just do a quick adjustment. They diagnosed the problem and are working to correct it with me. They have even went so far as to work out payment arguments for the things my insurance wouldn't cover.

    ~Brandon Ogle
     Fenton, MI

I had neck and shoulder pain since 2010. Ever since I started going to him I have felt better and better!

    ~Andrel Jacobs
     Fenton, MI

I had ankle problems all my life in my left foot. Dr. Ide adjusted my ankle for me and within one adjustment my ankle felt the best ever. Thanks Dr. Ide!

    ~A.H.
     Fenton, MI

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