One of the most common causes for muscle aches, joint pain or even low back
pain can be a lack of flexibility. Having spent many years in a "gym" type
atmosphere, I've seen how much stretching and improving ones flexibility is
ignored or not thought of as important. Certainly with the growing
popularity of things like yoga, Pilates and stretch & strength classes
there is an awareness of the need to improves flexibility and joint
mobility. However, for those who are less active and either have a long
commute to work or sit at a desk for the majority of their day, flexibility
couldn't be more crucial.
Adding a very simple full body stretching routine can greatly increase the
functional ability of your body, allow you to perform tasks more easily and
can help keep you much more active and independent with age.
Getting up from your desk and adding a short stretching routine to your day
can be extremely beneficial. However, keep in mind that you'll benefit
most from stretching after movement. Moving helps your muscles "warm-up"
and will increase circulation throughout your body, allowing your muscles
to lengthen easier. It will also decrease the amount of discomfort
experienced during a stretch.
Here are a few more reasons to stretch as well as a few pointers on how to
help improve your stretch. Enjoy!
Regular stretching can do the following:
- Relieve stress
- Improve posture
- Relieve tension related headaches
- Increase joint mobility
- Reduced the risk of injury during movement
When stretching, always do the following:
- Stretch within your limits – don't force the stretch into extreme pain
- Hold each stretch for a minimum of 15-20 seconds
- Be sure to hold the stretch, don't "bounce"
- Be consistent. Stretching once a week won't give you the results
you're looking for. Go for a minimum of 3-4 days/week
With that said, remember that stretching after your movement routine will
help increase your flexibility much faster and much easier!