Everybody’s Stretching

Everyone is talking about stretching now. And stretching businesses are springing up – almost as fast as car washes.

We recognize that stretching is one of the body’s basic needs – think of it as grease for the gears of your car. No grease, no go – or at least, no go well. Stretching is one of the tools that you can do on your own without a lot of equipment and with limited space. And, stretching can (or should) become as important to your day as, say, brushing your teeth and combing your hair. Why?

Stretching can help improve:

  • Your mental outlook (make you feel better about yourself and your self-image; can calm you)
  • Your flexibility
  • Your posture
  • Joint range of motion (help keep your joints limber and able to move properly)
  • Athletic performance
  • Blood flow to your muscles (and keep your muscles strong)
  • Your energy level
  • Sleep
  • Balance

Stretching can help reduce:

  • Headaches
  • Back pain (heal damage and prevent future or further damage)
  • Muscle tension
  • Injuries
  • Stress
  • Arthritis

Many of us have work that keeps us at our computers for hours. Even if we have a standing desk, is our focus on our posture? Stretching our joints? No – not if we’re focused on work. And as we age, gravity pulls us down and slows us down.

So how do you get started on a stretching routine?

You can buy a book on stretching. There are about a million choices. We use Stretching by Bob Anderson. What we like about this book is that it features stretching for every part of your body; stretching for different times of day; stretches before almost every sports activity; and stretching you can do while sitting and while in the office. And the stretches are illustrated.

Patricia of Next Step Fitness offers a mini-course on daily stretches and has offered to do presentations for various groups. She recommends starting your stretching routine before getting out of bed and has some stretches that can be done while brushing your teeth and brushing your hair.

How much time does stretching take? That is the beauty of stretching. While we encourage a program that stretches your full body every day and take 30 to 45 minutes per day (assuming you hold each stretch for 15 -30 seconds each), you can take that program and cut it up into pieces and do some in the morning, some before bed and do some at your desk. Or break your stretching routine down and do some, for example, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and others on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

In closing, the benefits of stretching extend far beyond the realm of athletes and fitness enthusiasts. Everyone can benefit from stretching. Incorporating a daily stretching routine into your life can drastically improve your outlook and your life. It is essential to note that stretching should be done safely. Consulting your healthcare professional or a fitness expert is advisable, especially for individuals with pre-existing health conditions.

So, why not take a few minutes each day to stretch and invest in your overall well-being? Your body and mind will thank you for it.