The Why and the How of Stretching
Stretching should be a part of your daily routine, whether you exercise or not. It does not have to involve a huge amount of time, but stretching can give you incredible benefits if done regularly. Stretching should never be forced or cause pain. Consult your doctor before beginning a stretching routine, especially if you are new to exercise or have an injury or physical condition that may affect your ability to perform the exercises. Stretching can:
- Help relieve both mental and physical tension.
- Increase range of motion.
- Enhance muscular coordination.
- Increase strength.
- Increase stamina.
- Improve posture.
- Increase energy levels.
- Be an important part of improving your heart health.
- Decrease risk of injury and soreness.
- Improve sleep quality.
The great thing about stretching is that it can be done anywhere. When you wake up, you can take just a few seconds and stretch your arms and legs in opposite directions. When you’re at the breakfast table or your desk, sit straight and gently tilt your head from side to side. And if you want something more, here are a few simple stretches:
- While sitting in a chair, begin by slowly bending forward and reaching your hands toward the floor. Flex your trunk and head down toward the ground. Hold for a stretch to your back, then return to starting position and repeat.
- Sit near the front edge of a chair. Rest your heel on the floor with your knee straight and gently lean forward until a stretch is felt behind your knee/thigh. Maintain a straight spine the entire time – bend through your hips.
- While in a seated position, raise your arm over your head and bend your body to the opposite side for a stretch. Hold, return to starting position and repeat.
- Bend your elbow and use your other arm to raise it up near your head. Gently push the elbow up and back towards your ear until a stretch is felt along the back of your arm.
It really doesn’t take long to do a couple of stretches – do it during commercials or when you need a little pause in what you are working on. Give it a try right now and you will likely see that it’s a habit worth starting.