ASK THE EXPERT: How stretching can improve your health

Ask the Expert

GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)- Stretching helps to increase range of motion, improve blood flow circulation, and reduce stress. It also provides many other health benefits, according to the American Council on Exercise.

As part of our “Ask the Expert” series, in partnership with Bon Secours St. Francis, 7 News Taylor Murray spoke with a physical therapist and a patient about incorporating stretching into your daily routine.

After a torn meniscus on his left knee, Austin Egan decided to give the Bon Secours’ stretch program a try.

“I had that injury for quite a couple of years and finally decided to look into it and fix it,” Egan said.

Adding stretching to your lifestyle can have several health benefits. Physical therapist Scott Carley says you don’t have to wait until an accident or injury to start.

“If we can keep people loose and keep people moving the way they should be moving, the way the body should be moving, they are a lot less likely to have that kind of injury.”

Scott Carley, Physical Therapist, Bon Secours St. Francis

In fact, stretching can help to reduce the risk of injury.

“We know that muscles are more likely to strain when they are tight and when they are stiff,” Carley said.

For nine weeks, Egan went to stretch sessions and saw major improvements. Activities he once struggled with, like kickboxing & swimming, are now pain-free.

“With Scott, he’s helped me, through corrective stretching, to both re-strengthen, re-build, as well as maintain my full range of movement for my knee,” Egan said.

Stretching can be low impact, making it an excercise for all ages.

“Even our older population, to stay loose to keep them functional, whether that’s continuing with a sport or just doing some yard work or housework, that can also help improve their flexibility and help prevent any injury from those activities,” Carley said.

Several stretches were used during Egan’s sessions. Stretching remains part of his daily routine at home.

“I would recommend everybody stretch at least to some degree,” Egan said.

If you want to begin stretching, meet with your doctor or a physical therapist first to make sure you are performing each stretch correctly.

“Generally, I would love to see folks stretch a little bit when they first get up and then before they go to bed,” Carley said.

Physical therapist Scott Carley says hold times vary for different stretches. For the most part, research says you should hold static stretches for 20-30 seconds at a time. Then repeat the move a few times.

To submit a health topic for our Ask the Expert series, click here.

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