Daily activities

Why stretching reduces pain during exercise and daily activities – Cassy Vieth of ‘Quick Fit’ explains

January 19, 2022 Tara Lovdahl

Written by Cassy Vieth

Ah! That 2-day delayed onset of soreness after a particularly intense workout or even after an activity you just haven’t done lately. It really is a miserable few days and reminds you of how old you are! But what to do ? Plan ahead!

For example, if you love gardening, but know that the first week is going to be deadly after months of reduced activity, you can take action now to reduce soreness and get over it faster!

Daily stretching along with simple strengthening will do wonders. You won’t spontaneously go to the gym and lift weights for two hours or hike the Grand Canyon without working out. Likewise, gardening season, with all it takes to lift, reach, bend and carry – it requires conditioning.

Winter is generally a less active time of year. Even if you’re active, each activity requires different patterns of muscle recruitment. Stretching is important.

Remember that tight muscles are weak. Simply stretching a muscle for 30-60 seconds each day will help bring it back to its ideal length, making more tissue available for contraction and allowing greater mobility in the joint. Once these tight muscles are corrected, their opposing muscles are then released to be strengthened and brought back to their ideal length, further increasing the flexibility – and strength – of the targeted joint.

Then there is something called tissue viscosity. Your muscle tissue contains fluid. This fluid can be thick or viscous, but stretching reduces viscosity, requiring less energy to move. This is why when you first wake up in the morning you feel stiff and it takes more effort to move.

Softer, more flexible muscles also absorb more force, which reduces injury. Imagine a bowling ball thrown down a hardwood bowling alley. Do it often enough, and something will break. Now imagine throwing that same bowling ball on a trampoline. The trampoline yields well and it will continue to absorb the force of that bowling ball much longer than the hardwood floor. This is a picture of your muscles. Tight muscles do not absorb forces from the ground as well or for as long as loose, fluid-filled muscles.

The body is amazing. The more you stretch, the more tolerance you gain for the discomfort of stretching. It has even been found that endorphins and painkillers are released during the process!

Strengthening your muscles ahead of time by getting them used to the work they are going to do will make the job less painful and you can do it longer. So don’t delay! You have so much to gain by taking care of yourself every day.

Join me at pbswisconsin.org/quick-fit-with-cassy and on YouTube and Facebook for simple, effective routines that will get you moving, so you can live better, longer! I will also be at Garden and Landscape Fair on Saturday, February 12 to show you stretches that will help you prepare for your best gardening season yet.