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Mahir Reiss: New Health Concerns Raise Importance of Stretching Properly

Emerging research highlights the actual benefits that stretching can offer, suggesting that the practice may impair athletic performance. In response, physical therapist Mahir Reiss comments on the importance of stretching technique.
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    PHILADELPHIA, PA, February 28, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Stretching may be a common part of many fitness routines, but new research suggests that this popular practice may not always be the best solution when it comes to enhancing physical performance. According to a recent article from The Huffington Post, "There is a growing body of research that shows that stretching can actually impair performance and cause injury." While the body's mechanisms may become damaged by stretching, Dr. Mahir Reiss--a licensed physical therapist--explains that this new evidence should not deter individuals from stretching, but instead encourage them to adopt new techniques in the practice.

The Huffington Post takes a closer look at how muscles work to reveal just how stretching could prove counterintuitive to the body's instinct. The article states, "When we try to force a muscle to relax by stretching it, we are applying force against an actively contracted muscle. Unbeknownst to us, we activate the 'stretch reflex,' a built-in mechanism to prevent muscles from being torn. There are muscle spindles...that get activated when force is applied to the muscles and actually tell them to contract further, in order to protect those muscles from injury." In short, a muscle that is contracted constantly limits a human's ability to move with strength and freedom.

While it is important to understand the physiology behind muscles, Mahir Reiss warns that this kind of statement could discourage people from stretching. He explains, "There are many ways a person can stretch--some are beneficial for a specific movement, while others may not prove effective. However, not stretching altogether can cause extensive long-term damage, so it is essential that every individual learn how to stretch properly.

The article suggests that the emerging research has led to new beliefs that stretching should involve mental process. It explains, "It is our brain that tells our muscles what to do. Muscles don't have a say in how long or short they are going to be. So when a muscle is too short, we need to change the brain patterns that are telling our muscles to do so." For example, individuals may find it advantageous to become imaginative while stretching and vary techniques to vary the way the muscles are moved.

Dr. Mahir Reiss concludes by adding, "Although the idea of stretching may be changing, it is important that every individual take the time to make sure they are listening to the body and moving in a beneficial manner. Consulting a licensed physical therapist can be a great way to educate one's self about proper stretching technique."


Mahir Reiss is a licensed physical therapist who owns and operates his own practice in San Diego, California. With more than 35 years of experience in the field, Dr. Reiss treats a variety of patients, from professional athletes who need to get back in the game to elderly individuals looking to enjoy a walk around their neighborhood again. In addition to traditional physical therapy, Mahir Reiss offers aquatic therapy, massage and nutrition counseling services at his private practice.


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