You don’t need to break a sweat to do the body good
Spring is a great time of year to jumpstart a new health routine. The weather is turning, flowers are blooming, and we finally have more sunshine to give us energy and ambition. There are a lot of avenues you can go down to make every day a little healthier that won’t mean a harsh reset of your previous lifestyle. One of those ways is stretching.
Using all that fresh springtime ambition to introduce daily stretching into your routine is easy and very good for you! Let’s talk about why this fitness routine is so beneficial, no matter your lifestyle, and how to make it work for your body and your time.
We tend to think of stretching in narrow ways, making it something that only certain groups of people need to worry about. Serious runners or professional athletes for example, are two groups that people often think about when it comes to stretching. People who are rehabilitating after an injury, even the elderly, are all recommended to stretch daily. But what about the rest of us, the people who aren’t athletes, aren’t hitting the gym hard every day, and aren’t recovering from a recent injury?
According to Harvard Health, “Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage.” This is to say that even if you aren’t working out or going for lengthy runs, you can still injure yourself more easily if you choose not to stretch.
Stretching is a sort of ‘warm up’ for your muscles, keeping them limber, long, and ready respond if you slip, engage in strenuous activity, or choose to go for a long run for the first time in a while. By stretching daily, you might prevent yourself from injury on an unexpected day or in an unexpected moment.
Stretching is more than increasing your flexibility, which is another common misconception about this activity. It also increases your body’s range of motion, which in turn, makes you less likely to sustain injury when being active. And please keep in mind that being active is more than playing a game of basketball, we are all active humans. We go up and downstairs, walk our dogs, walk to the car, pick up our kids, and more. Stretching helps prevent us from injuring ourselves while performing these everyday tasks which we often don’t consider an activity.
Because stretching improves our flexibility and range of motion, it also increases and improves circulation. When we have good circulation, it means that oxygen is circulating through our body well, which is important for all of us. Good circulation can lead to reduced stress levels, and who doesn’t want some of that?
How to Stretch
Stretching should vary for your body’s needs and your exercise routine. If you’re looking to introduce stretching into your daily routine, you should hold a stretch for fifteen to thirty seconds and up to one minute. Giving your body more time in the position, allows you to get comfortable in the hold and ‘relax ’deeper into the stretch.
Stretching daily for shorter amounts of time is better for you than stretching less for longer amounts of time. So, if all you have is an extra twenty minutes on weekdays but all the time in the world on weekends, it is still better to take advantage of the little time you have on weekdays than stretching for hours on the weekend.
Tips for Getting Started
- Remember not to push yourself, it’s easy to get frustrated with being inflexible and strain too much when you start stretching. This can lead to injury, so trust the process of daily stretching and ease into it.
- Stay hydrated. There is simply never a time when staying hydrated isn’t good for your body, and stretching is no different.
- Breathe into your stretches, let go of your stress and anxieties and just enjoy the quiet moment of relaxing into that stretch.
- Hold the stretch for at least ten seconds but do not strain. Remember this should be a relaxing process. Don’t push yourself into a deeper stretch if you feel your body straining.
Final Thoughts on Stretching Daily
The best part about stretching daily is when you start to see the results. Soon you will find that you can stretch further without trying, and that you feel less sore at the end of a physically strenuous day. You may even notice that you aren’t getting as stressed as you used to!
There is no bad time to start stretching, so give yourself a moment today to do your body good without upturning your current routine.