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Wellness Wednesday: Stretch Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself
One of the easiest things you can do to improve your health on a day-to-day basis is to stretch yourself. According to the Harvard Medical School, stretching is important because it keeps muscles “flexible, strong, and healthy” and helps them maintain “a range of motion in the joints.” Stretching protects our mobility and physical independence by keeping our muscles lean and flexible. Muscles that don’t get stretched become stiff over time, making them more prone to injury.
Here are some basic rules to use for stretching.
Should I Stretch Daily?
Yes! Regular stretching is very important to keep yourself limber and cuts down on the risk of over-exerting your muscles. You don’t have to stretch every muscle—focus on your lower extremities (calves, hamstrings, and hip flexors in your pelvis and quadriceps), which are critical for mobility. Stretching your shoulders, neck, and lower back can also do you a lot of good. Don’t worry if you miss a day or two; according to the Mayo Clinic, you’re on the right track if you get in at least three stretches a week.
When Will I See Results?
It takes time for the effects of regular stretching to kick in. Doing a stretch every now and then won’t give you Gumby-esque flexibility. It can take weeks to months before your muscles achieve a state of heightened suppleness.
Should I Stretch Before Exercising?
Yes, with a caveat: you should “warm-up” your muscles before stretching. According to the Harvard Medical School, “cold” muscles that are inactive are at greater risk of being damaged from stretching. Warming them up through getting your blood flow going will make the muscle tissue more pliable and easier to manipulate. Doing 5 to 10 minutes of low-impact, light activity (like taking a walk) can get your muscles ready for stretching.
What Are Some Good Stretches For A Beginner?
Here are some very effective and simple stretches: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/211174973491711/.
Can Stretching Alleviate Pain?
Stretching can definitely help ease certain kinds of muscle pain, particularly sciatica. If you’re experiencing back pain, these easy stretches can help take the edge off. There are even stretches you can do in bed when you wake up!
I Spend A Lot Of Time At My Desk— Are There Stretches I Can Do While Sitting?
A sedentary lifestyle can really stiffen your muscles, especially if you spend a lot of time sitting at work. Luckily, there are effective stretching exercises you can do to keep yourself loose and limber while you’re in the office.
Want more wellness tips? Check out these stories:
- Mindfulness and How it Can Help
- Taking a Break in More Ways Than One
- A Recipe for Great Communication