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Stretching helps poker players get rid of pain

How stretching exercises help poker players improve their health: science coclusions and importance for poker players.

Although many people perceive stretching as part of warming up before engaging in any sport, in reality, it is a separate set of physical exercises.

This type of physical activity is very beneficial for poker players, and why — we explain in detail in this article.

Important! Do not start stretching exercises without prior consultation with a medical professional or trainer, especially if you have had any physical injuries. Be careful during stretching and take care of yourself!

Types of stretching

If your first answer is “good” or “bad,” then you are mistaken. Stretching exercises come in many forms, but evidence-based physiotherapy usually identifies four.

Static Stretching

Each exercise lasts 20-30 seconds in one body position with gentle force applied. For example, lying on your back, lifting one leg up at a 90-degree angle, and using your hands to hold the leg in that position.

The aim of this type of stretching is to improve muscle flexibility and ligament elasticity, as well as reduce movement stiffness and discomfort after prolonged sitting. The latter effect is supported by scientific research, such as that conducted in 2014 by researchers at Kyoto University in Japan.

Dynamic Stretching

Exercises are performed in motion, so they are usually measured not by time but by repetitions of changes in body position. For example, you stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and alternate squatting on each leg, bending the knee.

The aim of this type of stretching is to increase joint mobility and expand the range of body movements. Additionally, according to research by a group of scientists from Japan and the USA, it helps improve movement control and significantly increase blood flow in the muscles.

Ballistic Stretching

In fact, this is a type of static stretching where instead of holding the body in a fixed position, you need to swing that part of the body. For example, you stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, lean forward at a 90-degree angle, and begin to gently swing the torso with arms stretched forward and downward.

The aim of this type of stretching is to quickly and intensely warm up the muscles and provide them with blood flow and nutrients. However, it is highly prone to causing injuries and is rarely recommended for regular practice. The reason is that ballistic stretching requires too sudden a stretch of muscles and ligaments. That’s why it’s recommended only for physically active individuals. More details can be found in the comparative analysis of the effects of static and ballistic stretching conducted by scientists from Brazil and California in 2016.

Post-Isometric Stretching

Exercises involving targeted muscle stretching with applied force that are practically impossible to do independently without risking injury — for this, a trainer or physiotherapist is required. The goal of such stretching is to relax muscles and relieve pressure from them and the joints, reducing stiffness and pain.

A safer but also requiring preliminary training counterpart is myofascial release — a massage technique aimed at separating the muscle from the fascia (connective tissue), relaxing it, and providing gentle stretching.

According to a study by scientists from a university in Pakistan in 2022, post-isometric stretching shows better results in increasing muscle and joint mobility, whereas myofascial release excels in improving their flexibility and expanding the range of motion.

Why is stretching beneficial for poker players?

The bane of all poker players is prolonged sitting at the computer in one position. Because of this, they not only experience problems with normal blood circulation throughout the body but also over time encounter:

  1. Weakening of the muscle corset tone — leading to the loss of ability to maintain a normal position of the head, neck, and entire body, which can lead, among other things, to slouching and spinal curvature.
  2. Decreased elasticity of ligaments and tendons — increasing the risk of injury during normal movement and making the body less flexible overall.
  3. Compression of the spine joints — during long periods of sitting, the joints are pressed against each other more strongly and for longer than during any movement. The reason lies in the absence of systematic work of muscles that help the body maintain a normal position in space.
  4. Nerve compression — causing numbness in various parts and areas of the body, as well as possible associated conditions (e.g., carpal tunnel syndrome or headaches).
  5. Skin dimpling — especially in the abdomen and thighs.

According to a meta-analysis of the effectiveness of stretching published in the journal “Sport and Health Science” in March 2024, stretching helps prevent the development of all these problems and also contributes to overall health improvement by increasing:

  • Blood and lymph flow intensity, including for deep tissues;
  • Flexibility and mobility of muscles and joints;
  • Elasticity of ligaments, tendons, and connective tissues;
  • Body coordination and range of motion of limbs;
  • Body muscle strength.

Moreover, stretching helps relax all parts of the body both after prolonged sitting and after intense physical activity.

How to prepare for stretching exercises

  1. Clear enough space to sit, lie down, and stand without risking hitting objects in your surroundings.
  2. Dress appropriately — wear comfortable, stretchy clothing that doesn’t dig into your body, restrict movement, or have stiff protruding elements and inserts. It’s preferable for the clothing not to ride up or slip down while also protecting your knees and elbows, as many stretching exercises require support from them.
  3. Use non-slip comfortable footwear. This could be sneakers or special socks with a rubber sole.
  4. Don’t practice on bare floors — buy a thin and dense fitness mat of suitable size to accommodate not only lying down in full height but also standing with legs spread wide apart.
  5. If necessary, prepare equipment in advance — bands or loops for stretching, long expanders, gymnastic balls, or other items you want to use for stretching.
  6. Refrain from consuming heavy meals and tonic drinks (coffee, tea, sodas, energy drinks) at least 2 hours before stretching. You can drink plain water, but it’s better to abstain half an hour before stretching.
  7. If you have a headache, feel nauseous or dizzy, or experience any other discomfort — refrain from exercises until you feel better.