Get a leg up on heart disease
Back in school, your gym teacher or coach would have you stretch up into the air and bend at the waist until your fingers hit the floor.
It might’ve felt a little silly back then, but take it from me — there was something to that little routine.
Although it may have been some time since you’ve been able to touch your toes… and it may be hard to THINK about bending anything… but even just a simple stretch can put you on the path to better health.
A study just out of Florida State University shows that an easy leg stretch can not only increase blood flow, but also reduce leg pain in people with peripheral artery disease.
That’s a type of cardiovascular disease in which the circulation to your arms and legs is reduced — and if that goes on for too long, it can be pretty painful.
Researchers asked older folks with peripheral artery disease to stretch their calf muscles for 30 minutes a day, using a splint that flexed their ankles at a slight angle.
After a month of stretching, the patients had both IMPROVED blood flow and LESS pain!
They could even walk longer and farther than they’d been able to before.
Of course, the goal of all that stretching was to get those patients comfortable enough to start a regular walking program.
While stretching is better than nothing, walking is better than stretching.
A nice, daily stroll gets your heart pumping and pushes the blood through your arms and legs — just where you need it.
If you have limited walking ability because of leg pain, some easy muscle stretches may change your game. It’s a safe solution that can be done at home, and it has the potential to really improve your tolerance for walking.
In fact, I recommend it to anyone whose ability to walk is hampered by peripheral artery disease — and all the discomfort that goes with it.
No matter how hard it is for you to move now, it’s never too late to start turning things around with the kind of physical activity that almost everyone can do.
Don’t worry if you’ve never used a splint to help you stretch. A physical therapist can show you how to wear and adjust one.
Just think of the things you’ll able to do… once you’re not sidelined by pain!