How Often Should You Stretch After an Injury?
Stretching after an injury can aid your recovery by activating several different muscle groups and improving your range of motion. However, you have to know how and when to stretch to make sure you’re helping your rehabilitation and not doing further damage.
Take Some Time Off
Following an injury or swelling, you should wait 72 hours before stretching and exercising. You should rest, ice, compress, and elevate (RICE) the injured area of your body to promote healing. By pushing through the pain and exercising too early, you risk aggravating your injury. This can often lead to permanent damage to soft tissues, like your muscles, and structural damage to joints, like your knee, which will only increase the time you have to spend on the sidelines.
Develop Pre- and Post-Exercise Routines
Once you’ve begun your initial recovery and returned to being active, you should warm up and cool down before and after exercising. Depending on your injury, a sports medicine specialist or a physical therapist can work with you to develop a routine to prepare you for increased levels of activity. By stretching before your workouts, you increase the blood flow to your muscles and improve your range of motion. Stretching after an exercise can help your body cool down from high levels of activity and reduce lactic acid, which can alleviate soreness.
Stretch Throughout the Day
Once you are healthy enough to perform stretches, it may be beneficial to do them throughout the day. Even if you aren’t preparing for exercise, stretching encourages increased blood flow and muscle activation that can aid in the recovery process. Stretching can also give you a psychological boost by helping you feel like you’re returning to your pre-injury routine.
During your recovery from an injury, stretching can be a useful tool that helps you get back on the field. However, you should always seek the advice of a medical professional after a serious injury. K. Mathew Warnock, MD is a board-certified orthopedic sports medicine specialist. Dr. Warnock can evaluate your injury and recommend the best course of action for treatment. To schedule a consultation at our clinic in Houston, call 281-807-4380.