Stretching Study

Untitled designThose of you who enjoy the BBC’s factual programmes have probably come across “Trust Me, I’m a Doctor”, a show that looks at health issues.  One that caught my eye recently was about stretching.  A study was carried out by a team at Wolverhampton University.  They looked at what happens in our bodies when our muscles are passively stretched (when someone else stretches you).  The researchers gave people sugary drinks and then stretched them, or had them sit still.  Then they measured the impact that stretching had on three things: their blood-sugar levels, energy expenditure and heart rate, compared with sitting still.  The results were somewhat surprising.  Passive stretching caused blood sugar levels to fall to 23% lower than if just sitting, heart rates to rise by 17% (similar to taking low intensity exercise), and burned 126% more calories per hour than if sitting still.

Stretching, even passively, drops blood sugar levels, raises heart rate, and burns calories. (2)Easy and healthy

What’s the significance of this finding? Well, it shows how even a small amount of activity can have a noticeable effect on our health.  If having someone else stretch us whilst we relax can give us benefits similar to gentle exercise, think what more effect active stretching would have – where you move yourself!  And it’s really easy to add some gentle stretching to your day.  So, next time you’re watching TV after dinner, remember to drop your blood sugar levels and burn some of those calories with a good stretch session!

For me as an osteopath, it’s great to know that when I’m stretching my clients – particularly the older ones – I’m not only helping to keep their muscles in good shape and their joints healthy and mobile, but I’m positively affecting their physiology.  Gentle therapy can benefit someone’s whole health – and that, after all, is what osteopathy’s all about!


BBC Two – Trust Me I’m a Doctor