We’ve all heard it said many times: Stretching is good for you. And there is a reason we hear it so much. It’s true.
Muscle pain and stiffness have seemingly become an accepted way of life, given our sedentary and fast-paced “no time to exercise” lifestyles. This results in living with pain, stiffness and muscle tension that we can avoid. It also leads to using topical creams and gels that only serve as Band-Aids to the problem. What we need is to address the source of the pain, stiffness, and tension by stretching.
Stretching our bodies is a simple way to relieve stiffness and tension. It helps to get our blood flowing and facilitates energy. And it doesn’t cost anything to do!
There are many different stretches we can do every day to help maintain flexibility and muscle elasticity. But it is important that we also know what not to do when we stretch. Two of the big no-nos in stretching are rapid motion and experiencing pain. Stretches are meant to be done slowly and if there is any pain associated with a stretch that exercise should be stopped and a physician should be consulted.
That understood, Marilyn Moffat, a professor of physical therapy at New York University, suggests several stretches, and these two popular stretches can be done anywhere and at any time. In fact, you should take the opportunity to do these stretches several times a day:
Neck Rotation – Slowly turn your head to the right and hold that position for 30 to 60 seconds. Face forward and then repeat to the left.
Hyperextension – In a chair, hold your hands above your head and arch backward over the back of the chair with just a slight bend; enough to stretch out your spine without going too far.
Other stretches include:
- Neck Tilt
- Trunk Rotation
- Trunk Lateral Flexion
- Fold Over
- Back Scratch
- Quad Stretch
- Heel Cord
- Hip Flexor
- Leg Extension
By including these stretches into our daily routine – like going to the coffee machine or hitting that snack bar – we can alleviate a lot of pain from our lives, and that makes for a healthier, happier you!
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