Most people think of stretching as something you do at the gym before and after working out. However, for a healthy body, stretching should be a part of your daily routine whether you exercise or not. Stretching elongates your muscles and improves flexibility. It has many health benefits including helping with posture and alleviating back pain.
As we age, our muscles naturally become less flexible and we lose our range of motion. Sedentary muscles are also stiff and tense. Among other things this causes poor blood circulation, heachaches, backaches, soreness and fatigue. The good news is that the solution—stretching—is very simple and can be done by pretty much anyone.
Some of the benefits you can expect from regular stretching are:
* Reduced headaches caused by muscle tension
* More energy because of increased blood circulation
* Increased range of motion
* Less stress and fatigue
* Reduced back pain from tight muscles
* Better posture
And, these are just some of the wellness you can expect from a regular stretching routine! Studies have shown that stretching also helps lower blood pressure and is excellent for expecting moms.
One of the great things about stretching is that it doesn’t require any expensive equipment and you can get started today.
First, set aside a regular time to stretch each day. To maximize the benefits of stretching try to wake up an hour early to stretch before you begin your day. Trust me, when you start feeling the benefits of a regular stretching routine you won’t even mind getting up an hour early!
It is important to stretch when your muscles are warm to prevent injuries like pulled muscles. Before stretching always warm up for five minutes by walking or doing some other light aerobic activity.
You’ll want to create a routine of stretches that cover your entire body as well as focus on your problem areas. Include stretches for your neck, hamstrings, quads, biceps, triceps, chest, back and glutes. There are many excellent books, videos and online resources that you can use to develop a good full-body routine.
Having the correct technique is very important in order to prevent injury and maximize the benefits of stretching—be sure to always stretch slowly and deliberately controlling your movement carefully. Never stretch to a point where you feel pain. It is also important to breath normally.
Stretching should be a relaxing and enjoyable activity that causes no physical pain or discomfort. Over time you will find yourself having the increased flexibility and range of motion to stretch more deeply.
If you’ve ever stretched instinctively after getting up from sitting on the sofa or a long car ride you already know that stretching feels really good. Routine stretching will not only make you feel good, but will have lasting health benefits.
There are many resources to help you get started with a stretching routine including online fitness and health magazines and websites that help you address specific pain points. Look for stretching classes at your local gym to get you started with the correct techniques. And of course, be sure to consult with your primary care physician before starting any stretching routines.