If you have been reading my other posts, you will notice that I have already mentioned the importance to stretching in 6 Easy Ways to be Healthier Each Day.
I feel there is so much more to talk about when it comes to stretching than what I briefly explained in my previous post. It is one of those things that is so often overlooked. People do not recognize the health advantages that it can have.
This post is to ensure you have all the information you need to add stretching to your routine. I will admit I don’t stretch as much as I should, but I have been working on it. And I have been able to see a difference so far since I have added more stretching throughout the day.
Stop for a second and stand up. Bend down and try to touch your toes. Can you? Are you close? If not, that is ok. This post is meant to show you how vital stretching can be for your body.
If you start to stretch routinely, you will be able to see many improvements, and maybe even touch your toes.
Relieve Pain and Tension
Stretching can benefit your body in many ways. One of the main reasons people stretch is to relieve pain or tension. Stretching daily has been proven to reduce the odds of muscle cramps and pain levels.
The thing is, many people only stretch after they experience a muscle cramp or have some sort of pain. Stretching is used after the damage is already done, instead of using it to lessen the chances of causing that damage in the first place.
Lets try to fix that!
Become More Flexible
Stretching can also help you to become more flexible, which allows you to have a better range of motion. This will also lessen your chances of straining or pulling a muscle.
Let be honest. Many of us go in spurts when it comes to working out. Life is busy and other things take priority.
It happens, but the problem is your body isn’t used to those movements when you do workout. When you don’t stretch beforehand or after, this is were the pulled muscles and strains come in.
Your posture can also be greatly improved when you stretch more frequently. For all of those who sit most of the time at work, keep this in mind.
Poor posture equals back and neck pain. We have all experienced this at one time or another. It can affect your mood and productivity.
By stretching, even if you already have the pain, you can help to correct your posture and relieve that pain. It might feel silly, but take the time to just stretch right at your desk.
Another benefit is that it can decrease stress and lessen the chance of depression and anxiety. It can also improve your mood in general.
When you are stressed your body can become very tense. Routinely stretching has been proven to reduce your mental fatigue and relieve that tension.
I don’t know about you, but I have never met anyone who is happy when they have a lot of pain. I know when I have back or neck pain, or even a tension headache, my mood is not nearly as positive as it normally is.
Keep In Mind
Before we get into some different stretches you can do, I want to remind you that it is always important to stay hydrated. Drink water throughout the day not just all at once.
This is important for your muscles to help loosen them up. Many people prefer to get a water bottle such as this to help make sure they are drinking enough water throughout the day.
Stretching For Upper Body
There are many different stretches you can do for your upper body. Here are a few common stretches that are easy to do, even if you are at work. Add these to your daily routine and keep them in mind for when you start to feel tense or stiff.
Shoulder Shrugs– Gently raise your shoulders up, hold for a moment, and slowly drop them back down. Do this several times.
Posterior Shoulder Stretch– Put on arm across your body and pull your elbow into your chest. Hold this pose for several seconds. Repeat with the opposite arm.
Neck Rotations– Keeping your body straight, move your head to the side. Stretch it as far to the side as you can. Hold it for a few seconds. Repeat in the opposite direction.
Shoulder Extensions– Stretch your arms out behind you with your hands clasped and gently raise them. Hold it for several seconds.
Raise your arms above your head with your hands linked and reach upwards. Hold for several seconds.
Side Oblique Stretch– This stretches your abs, which I realize is not really your upper body. However, it is a simple stretch you can do anywhere so I thought it was important to include.
Raise one arm straight up. Reach and lean to the opposite side of your body. Hold for several seconds. Repeat with the other arm.
Stretching For Lower Back
These stretches will take a little more space, but they are great to do in the morning and in the evening. Some of these are common yoga poses.
They will help to alleviate any back pain you might be feeling and help reduce the occurrence of it.
Child’s Pose– Go down you your hands and knees. With your arms stretched out in front of you, push back until your butt is resting on your heels. Hold this position for several seconds. Move back to your hands and knees and repeat.
Lumbar Extension– Start by lying on your stomach. Put your palms flat on the ground. Push up, extending your back, lifting only your upper body. Keep your elbows slightly bent. Hold this pose for several seconds. Lower yourself back to the ground and repeat.
Cat-Cow Stretch– Go on your hands and knees with your hands placed under your shoulders. Push your back up, rolling it into an arch. Hold for several seconds. Return to the starting position and repeat.
Kneeling Stretch– Kneel on one knee. Keep your back straight. Bend forward from the hip. Hold for several seconds. Switch legs and repeat.
Standing Stretch– While standing, bring one foot up to your butt. With your hand, pull it into you. Hold for thirty seconds and repeat with the other leg.
Downward Dog– This stretches other muscles in your legs such as your hamstrings and calves, but it strengthens your quads, so I feel it is good to include here.
Go on your hands and knees. Keeping your arms and legs straight, push your hips up to the ceiling. Hold for several seconds.
There are many great benefits to stretching everyday. Whether you are trying to reduce the risk of injury, become more flexible, decrease stress, or alleviate pain, stretching is the way to go.
We have covered a dozen different stretches you can use to help various parts of your body.
Keep this post handy and try using them. See the difference it can make for you!
And if you are looking for great morning stretches, check out Stretches to Help You Rise and Shine All Day.