Stretching is a natural and instinctive activity and is innate to all animals. We stretch when we wake up, get up from a chair or when we’ve been driving for long periods of time. Watch your dog or cat and they are always stretching throughout the day. Shouldn’t we be stretching throughout our day?
Everyone can learn to stretch, regardless of age or flexibility and if we take a few minutes each day and make it a daily routine we can prevent the many problems we acquire through lack of flexibility. Stretching increases flexibility, improves circulation, improves balance and coordination, helps alleviate lower back pain and provides stress relief.
1. Bring Our Muscles to Their Optimal Length
Stretching involves elongating a specific muscle or group of muscles to its fullest length. As we get older our muscles shorten and become tight affecting our posture, our walk and our health. With proper stretching techniques that increase oxygen and blood flow to the muscles, we can safely stretch our muscles; improving our posture, ability to walk and our health.
2. Increased Flexibility
Flexibility is the degree to which your muscle lengthens. Lack of flexibility causes your movement to be slower and less fluid and also leads to more injuries. Common injuries or ailments from in flexibility are muscle strains, ligaments sprains and other soft tissue injuries.
3. Improved Blood Circulation
Circulation increases blood flow to the muscles. This increased blood flow helps remove waste products and brings more nourishment to the muscles. Blood flow is also more important to the smaller muscles that attach to tendons, like the rotator cuff, gastrocnemius and soleus muscles (calf muscles). There is little or no blood flow at the area where the muscles attaches to tendon and that is why these are some of the most injured areas. Blood flow helps to heal muscles and improve circulation which can help heal injuries and prevent future surgeries if caught at the right time.
4. More Controlled Balance and Coordination
Balance and coordination is something we lose as we get older and also can be prevented by stretching and exercise. Lack of coordination prevents us from doing everyday things like opening up jars, reaching up to get something on a shelf or simply tying our shoes. By strengthening the muscles and keeping the muscles and joints flexible through stretching, you can prevent balance issues and keep coordination intact. One of the biggest problems when we get older is the lack of balance and coordination causes falls. Breaking a bone at any age is a problem but at an older age can be just devastating. The most common break of the elderly is the hip, and what follows, is a tough surgery and a long healing process. As we get older it is harder to heal and this type of injury can change your life in a big way.
5. Decrease Symptoms of Back Pain
Back pain is something most people experience at some point in their life. Stiff and tight muscles in the lower back, hamstrings, buttocks and hips are some of the most common causes of lower back pain. Stretching these muscles will alleviate the pain and help keep away pains like sciatica, Achilles pain, calf cramps and foot pain. A regular routine of stretching, bringing oxygen flow and circulation to the muscles can help relieve and keep away recurring pains.
Stretching is important for people of all ages. Whether you make stretching a part of your morning routine or after a workout, keeping your limbs and joints flexible will help prevent injury and help with pain. Post-exercise stretching will aid in your workout recovery, decrease muscle soreness and ensure your muscles and tendons are in good working order. Stretching does not involve a lot of time and commitment but it will keep you healthy and help with prevention, and all sorts of pain and the healing of injuries. I guess s you can say it’s a commitment you really can’t afford not to make.
– Jeannine Nystrom
Jeannine Nystrom specializes in rehab exercise therapy, is a licensed massage therapist, certified stretching therapist, certified personal trainer and esthetician. As someone who had multiple injuries when she was younger that limited her living a healthy normal life, she was thrilled to find someone who was able to teach her how to self help with stretching and massage, getting back into shape and living a balanced life.
She owns a studio and day spa in Juno Beach, Florida and teaches all of these practices to her clients so they too can have a total holistic body and live a more balanced life.
Visit Jeannine’s website.