Did You Know? Stretching Works to Prevent Injury, Improve Athletic Performance

Did you know that stretching can help improve flexibility? Better flexibility may improve your performance in physical activities and decrease your risk of injuries by helping your joints retain fluidity in their full range of motion.

A regular stretching program can help lengthen your muscles and make daily living activities easier – whether that be doing simple exercises at your desk to reduce the risk of work-related repetitive stress injuries or taking part in an organized yoga class.

“Flexibility is just one component of yoga, along with balance, strength, precision, alignment and endurance,” said Terese Ireland, a nurse at TMC who also teaches weekly yoga classes for employees on campus.

Even so, she said, flexibility is key in helping to prevent injury by keeping the body more supple and nimble. A flexible spine also helps in preserving posture, since slumping forward and downward can lead to neck and shoulder pain and an eventual rounding of the spine.

Her students have reported less pain in their lower back or hips with regular practice. One of her students, who lifts heavy loads throughout the day, has reported having to take less ibuprofen.

Dr. Matt Heinz, a hospitalist at TMC, said as we age, our connective tissues change and we become less limber. “If you have maintained those soft tissues and connective tissues and joints, you’re going to not only better tolerate a workout regimen, but you’re also more able to respond to a sudden change in position, like a fall,” he said.

It also helps with stress reduction, Dr. Heinz added. “Stress worsens your immune system, increases your blood pressure and makes you have a more rapid heart rate,” he explained. “Anything that reduces stress is generally going to make you healthier.”

Diana Streitfeld, a volunteer who works in the nursery at TMC for Children, reported she’s noticed a big improvement in her alignment and posture since she began practicing yoga, adding she also feels more in tune with her body.

Her flexibility has improved as well. “I had lost some of that flexibility over the years and now I’ve noticed that it’s coming back and I’ve gotten a lot more flexible,” Streitfeld said.

Aside from the physical aspects, Ireland noted yoga is also good for the mind and spirit. “It’s an absolute stress reliever and energy builder. You can walk into class, exhausted, and walk out feeling two inches taller and energized.”

As a clinical nurse leader, Ireland said yoga has helped her find another kind of flexibility: “I’ve always loved what I do as a nurse, but it’s really helped me find even more compassion and flexibility with patients, nurses and doctors.”

Ireland said the No. 1 reason people are reluctant to try yoga? They fear they aren’t flexible enough. Her response?  “Then yoga is perfect for you. It will take time, but if you consistently stick with it, you will gain that flexibility,” she said, cautioning not to let ego reign over patience, since improvements take time.

The other misconception, fueled in part by media images of lithe yogis, is that a person has to be thin to participate. “The intention of those who brought yoga to America was to help all people. Yes, it’s an art form, but it’s also for overall health, and one of the great things about yoga is that it helps people find their way to a healthier lifestyle over time. It’s not about walking in and starting a diet.”

Nurse of 50 Years Set to Retire

In 1962, Americans survived the Cuban Missile Crisis, said goodbye to Marilyn Monroe and rejoiced when Albert Sabin’s polio vaccine was licensed for use in the U.S.

 That was also the year Carole Mullins was hired at Tucson Medical Center.

 With half a century of caring for patients, Mullins is retiring just as her birthday cake readies for 70 candles. She’s been here so long she’s one of only two employees remaining with a single-digit employee number.

 “TMC was a second family for me,” said Mullins. “I liked the doctors. I loved working with the patients. It was just a lot of fun.”

 Mullin traces her roots in nursing back to watching her aunt care for her ailing grandparents as she was growing up. “Nursing is all I ever wanted to do. To this day, I like helping people and taking care of people.”

 She also recalls the key piece of advice that sustained her through five decades of nursing. Her teacher at St. Joseph’s School of Nursing in Maryland told the class they should pay close attention to the cardiologist giving the lecture, because there would be questions afterward. The class dutifully took copious notes, only to have the teacher afterward ask what color his suit was. No one could answer.

 “The point was that no matter what machines might be available, no matter what else is going on, stop and look at your patient.”

 Mullins, who began her career in pediatrics and later spent more than 30 years working with orthopedic patients, recalls an era when a white uniform, hose and hat were standard issue. There was no pediatric unit, but TMC did have a nurses’ residence when she first started. Still, she said, quality of care has remained a standard, with an excellent nursing staff, helpful pharmacy staff and patient-oriented technicians.

 While she will miss the friends she has cultivated through the years, and will miss the patient contact, Mullins has already found other ways to stay engaged in the community. She’s volunteering at the community food bank and for her church. She’s also teaching first-graders to read at a midtown school.

 Mullins will be surrounded by her four grown children and some of her eight grandchildren when TMC hosts a retirement celebration next month. The event will take place in the Mesquite/Tumbleweed meeting room in the Marshall Conference Center on April 6.




Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461