Stretching, especially static stretching, is a low-impact way to get your muscles moving without putting a lot of stress and pressure on them. As a result, it's often used as a tool in the recovery process after an injury.
One of the most important goals of post-injury rehabilitation is restoring movement to the injured body part by working on coordination, strength and flexibility. If you're injured, muscles can becoming tight and inflexible when they're not being used, so it's not a surprise that stretching can help get them back in commission after a time out.
Recovery stretching is usually slow and aims at elongating the muscle tissue and building strength and coordination gradually over time. It's not often recommended that you stretch within a week of the injury, since the body is trying to repair itself and, depending on the type of injury, it can simply cause further the damage.
A typical recovery regimen for a relatively minor ailment could begin as early as a week after the injury. This early stage might include slow, static stretches aimed at increasing blood flow to the affected area. After about two weeks, stretching might be more frequent and intensive, focusing on regaining flexibility, coordination and balance. After about five weeks, static and dynamic stretches might be used to increase strength in the neglected muscles.
Another benefit of stretching for recovery is that it can alert you to any movement-related problems you might have. Since it's a way to slowly get you moving again, it can sometimes be instrumental in alerting you to healing difficulties. Pain or an inability to move in certain ways, for example, might be a signal of other problems.
Still want to know more about triathlons, triathlon training or stretch exercises? The links below will point you in the right direction.
- Atler, Michael J. "Science of Flexibility, Third Edition." Human Kinetics, 2004.
- Burke, Ed. "Serious Cycling." Human Kinetics, 2002.
- Frontera, Walter R. "Clinical Sports Medicine: Medical Management and Rehabilitation." Elsevier Health Sciences, 2007.
- Holland, Tom. "The 12-Week Triathlete: Train for a Triathlon in Just Three Months." Fair Winds, 2005.
- Holt, Laurence E., Thomas W. Pelham and Jason Holt. "Flexibility: A Concise Guide to Conditioning, Performance, Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation." Humana Press, 2008.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. "Stretching: Focus on Flexibility." Mayoclinic.com. Feb. 21, 2009. (Sept. 15, 2010)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stretching/HQ01447
- Pfitzinger, Pete and Scott Douglas. "Advanced Marathoning." Human Kinetics, 2009.
- Salo, Dave. "Complete Conditioning for Swimming." Human Kinetics, 2008.
- Scott, Dave and Liz Barrett. "Dave Scott's Triathlon Training." Simon and Schuster, 1986.
- Walker, Brad. "The Anatomy of Stretching." North Atlantic Books, 2007.