Dynamic vs. Static Stretching - What's the Difference?

There is a lot of debate about stretching.  Some swear by it in order to loosen up before their workout or to prevent injury and soreness.  Others fail to see the benefit and bypass it entirely.  The fact is that, while stretching can seem a miniscule part of a fitness routine, its benefits are well documented, and they apply to both athletes and people who lead more sedentary lifestyles. People who regularly stretch, as part of a more complete fitness routine, can expect long-term gains in not only range of motion but also endurance, power and strength.

There are two main categories when it comes to stretching and both offer their own, unique benefits:

What is Dynamic Stretching?

Dynamic stretching refers to stretching that incorporates movement. It increases blood flow and muscle temperature slowly, so it’s ideal to use as part of a warm-up for any type of cardio or strength workout. Many dynamic stretches are sports-specific – so, for example, a tennis player might warm up with lunging and squatting, and a martial artist might warm up with slow kicking or punching. These stretches imitate movements that take place in more powerful, explosive ways during an actual workout, so they are crucial for preparing the body and preventing injury.

Dynamic stretching is all about controlled movement. People performing it should feel a mild to medium stretch in the joints and muscles that are moving, but the movements should be slow and controlled, running through as full a range of motion as possible.

Upper-body dynamic stretches include wrist and arm circles, internal and external shoulder rotations and wrist flexions and extensions. Dynamic stretches for the lower body include squats, lunges, leg swings and toe touches.

What is Static Stretching?

Static stretching refers to holding still movements or poses for a set period of time in an effort to improve your body’s range of motion. Static stretching is not ideal for “cold” muscles, so it’s better to do it as part of a cool-down or after a warm-up and before a main workout.

To work for increased range of motion and injury prevention, static stretching should NEVER be painful. Instead, it should help release tension and calm the mind as well as the body. Stretch until the pose feels challenging, then hold the stretch for about 30 seconds.

Upper-body static stretches include shoulder and triceps extensions, and lower-body static stretches include hamstring and calf stretches, quad stretches and the “butterfly” pose.

It’s worthwhile to schedule an appointment with your physician before beginning any stretching routine, especially for people who have strained muscles, tendinitis or existing injuries.  A chiropractor is uniquely qualified to help determine which form of stretching should be used and when in order to both prevent injury to the muscles and soft tissue, as well as to improve range of motion.  When combined with a regular routine of care, stretching can be one of the body’s best defenses to maintaining proper function.

If you are considering chiropractic care or are searching for a physician who can help get and keep you in the best possible shape, contact SouthEast Chiropractic: The Motion Centers.  With offices in both Gastonia and Belmont, we have a convenient location and skilled chiropractic team near you.  Simply click below to request your appointment.

 

How Sleep Position May Cause Back Pain

If you are among the millions who suffer from back pain, it may feel that nearly anything you do aggravates your discomfort.  Long car rides, busy days on your feet, and even just sleeping become new feats when back pain is involved.  Sleep is supposed to be restorative.  What do you do when you simply can’t get comfortable or wake up in worse pain than you were before?  As you may have heard, position is everything.  From how you hold your body when you sit and walk to how you sleep, it all matters when it comes to pain.  Read on to learn how your own preferred sleeping position may be affecting your back.

Stomach Sleepers and Back Pain

Dear stomach sleepers, we hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s likely you have heard this before.  Your position is the worst for back pain and is exceptionally notorious for causing lower back pain.  Typically, this position forces the back into an unnatural, upwards arch, misaligns the back and hips, and results in pain due to hyperextension of the spine.  While it’s best to avoid this sleeping position, if you simply cannot fall asleep any other way, try a pillow under your hips and stomach to help restore alignment.

Side Sleepers and Back Pain

Side sleeping has its benefits, such as open airways and reduced snoring.  The position is ideal for those who may suffer from sleep apnea.  It can also be a good position for back pain sufferers but only under certain circumstances.  To make sleeping on your side work for you, try a pillow between your legs and bend them no more than a 45 degree angle.  Make sure the pillow under your head is thick and supportive, and watch for sagging in your mattress as it ages.

Back Sleepers and Back Pain

Great news, back sleepers!  Yours is the best sleeping position for back pain.  You are more likely than your stomach or side-sleeping counterparts to keep your spine in alignment.  Furthermore, back sleeping evenly distributes your weight, alleviating pressure on the spine.  Despite the benefits, however, back sleepers are not totally immune to pain while sleeping.  If you find that you’re uncomfortable when lying down, make sure your pillow is providing adequate support for your neck, and try another under your knees or lower back to help maintain proper alignment of your spine.

The benefits of a restful night’s sleep cannot be overstated.  When you sleep better, your body functions better.  You awake alert, rested, and ready to take on whatever your day may bring.  Don’t let back pain come between you and great sleep.  No matter what position you prefer, there are some steps you can take to help protect your back and ensure a higher level of comfort both at night and in the morning.

Of course, back pain is affected by more than sleep.  If you truly want to overcome pain and get to the root of the problem, consider visiting a chiropractor.  For those in the Greater Charlotte area, Southeast Chiropractic: The Motion Centers offers two convenient locations and highly-trained physicians and staff to help you overcome your pain.

Foam Rolling for Chronic Pain

For anyone who has spent time in the gym recently, the sight of exercisers lying on brightly colored “pool noodles” is probably not out of place.  Many who are perhaps less familiar with the various tools used in the world of physical fitness have found themselves confounded by this sight: What exactly are they doing?  The first point to understand in answering this question is that these pool noodle-looking devices are called foam rollers and their appearance is the only similarity they bear to the swim toy. 

Foam rolling is a technique of self-myofascial release.  A well-kept secret, it was once only known and used by professional athletes, trainers, and therapists.  Now available to the masses, the practice has quickly gained popularity as its benefits become more widely recognized.  When used appropriately, foam rolling offers improved blood circulation, lengthening of tight muscles, increased flexibility and range of motion, and pain relief.  However, in order to reap these benefits, patients must first understand how the technique works and how to use it safely.  Here are the basics:

What is Myofascial Tissue?

Discussing self-myofascial release begs the question, “What is myofascial tissue?”  Despite its importance in function, performance, and comfort of the human body, few even know that it exists.  This tough, dense tissue covers every muscle and bone in the body in a very organized, spider web-type pattern.   When healthy, this tissue is soft and flexible, allowing us to move and stretch comfortably.  However, when inflammation or trauma occurs, myofascia can become tight, restricting movement and causing referred tension and pain throughout the body.  Headaches, muscle pain, sciatica, neuropathies, and tension or pain throughout the back and neck can all result from damage to myofascial tissue.  Chiropractic care, and massage therapy are both means by which to help damaged myofascial tissue regain its elasticity.  However, foam rolling allows patients another at-home option by which to find comfort.

How Does Foam Rolling Work, and Who Should do it?

Foam rollers are cylinders which vary in size and density.  By using them to place precise pressure on troublesome trigger points throughout the body, users often receive relief equivalent to that offered by a deep-tissue massage.  The practice is typically uncomfortable.  It isn’t uncommon to feel pain as tension within the myofascia is released or soreness after, but the end result is often relief.  Most patients can treat their tension, stiffness, and pain with foam rolling without complication.  However, for all users, it is important to first speak to a professional such as a chiropractor.  They can help you determine if the pain you are experiencing is in fact due to myofascial tension, as well as instruct you on proper use of the foam roller to avoid further injury.

Selecting a Foam Roller

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Begin shopping for a foam roller, and you will soon realize that there are an overwhelming number of options.  They come in varying sizes, shapes, and materials and selecting the right one can be a difficult process.  At SouthEast Chiropractic, we have our own favorite in the Proper Foam Roller.  Among the advantages of this particular roller is a unique shape and compact design which offer:

·        Deep penetration of connective tissues

·        Protection of the spine

·        Encourages recovery of soft tissues

·        Improves flow of oxygen-rich blood

·        Strong enough to withstand up to 500 lbs

To learn more about this particular foam roller or to purchase your own, contact our Gastonia office where the line is carried. 

While ongoing treatment with a skilled chiropractor is the most effective treatment option for many types of back or neck pain, self-myofascial release with a foam roller will also prove helpful for many patients, particularly those who are physically active.  To determine if the practice is safe for you, contact SouthEast Chiropractic: The Motion Centers.  Not only will our chiropractors help determine the true source of your pain, they will also help develop a treatment plan that consists of both in-office and at-home initiatives.  To request your appointment in our Gastonia or Belmont office, simply click here.