Be honest, how many of us actually do stretches we are given by our massage therapists, physio or personal trainers??
Not many of us I am sure!
"Too little time"....... "too busy"....... "stretching is boring".......... we all have excuses not to stretch.
There are many benefits to stretching daily including improved Range of motion and flexibility, prevents injuries. But I wish to highlight a few that I think are relevant to a bigger percentage of the population, the working class. Yes, the people that spend 8-10 hours at a desk in front of a computer, then possible 30 minutes to an hour a day commuting to and from work.
Many health experts suggest that sitting for prolonged periods is having a negative effect on our bodies and that 'sitting is the new smoking'. Inactivity and sitting for long periods of time puts stress and the spinal column. As a person stands, bones and muscles are strained as the body is pulled out of line and other muscles are forced try to correct the imbalance.
This makes the need to reverse the daily stresses of workplace sitting hugely important and workplace stretching has been shown to help reverse these effects.
Helps with joint movement
Stretching stimulates synovial fluid in the joints, which act to make joints move easier, enhancing range of motion, reducing stiffness and pain. A flexible joint requires less energy to move through a wider range of motion. A flexible body allows more energy efficient movements. Stretching has also shown to slow the degeneration of joints.
Prevents Fatigue and Discomfort
Frequent stretching keeps blood and nutrients supplied to the working muscles, helping with fatigue and discomfort, while reducing stress and increasing energy levels. Chronically tense muscles tend to cut off their own blood circulation, resulting in lack of oxygen and nutrients delivered to the muscles. Stretching allows muscles to relax.
Muscle imbalances can lead to poor posture. Sitting at the desk, in the car, standing for long periods during the day all use muscles to hold our posture in place. When these muscles fatigue or are placed in an uncomfortable position, we compensate by using other muscles of the body. This places strain and stress on our, already compromised posture. Stretching particular postural muscles, eg. neck, shoulders, chest, hips and lower back, can encourage proper alignment and reduce musculoskeletal pain.
Can Help Decrease Tension Headaches
Tension headaches are a common occurrence in the workplace. Stress, bad posture both contribute to stiffness, tension through neck and shoulders. Regular stretching of the neck can help reverse postural imbalances. Stretching the neck can help reduce stress and boost energy levels. Neck and shoulder tension can
make headache/migraine symptoms worse.
Prevents Back Pain
Tight muscles decrease Range of Motion, increasing chances of straining muscles. Stretching lower back reduces tension in muscles that support the spine. Tension in these muscles can worsen pain from any number of existing back conditions. Regular stretching can help prevent any further injury or pain. Along with stretching lower back muscles, additionally stretching muscles that affect lower back and pelvis , such as hamstrings and hip flexor, can relieve stress on the lumbar spine , reducing risk of low back pain and injury.
There is so much that you can do on a daily bases to help combat the stresses of day to day life and stretching is one of them. Remember these need to be done regularly to help counteract the postures we spend long hours in at work. Check in with your massage therapist next session to see if you are doing everything you can enhance your well being.