Here’s a quick task for you (after you check my previous Tabata post and re-read the disclaimer about exercising!) – reach your arms WAY over your head and streeeetch it up! Feel your spine lengthen, your arms press up, and your rib cage expand! Ahhhh!!
Stretching regularly should be a part of a healthy life. Any activity you do – walking, running, lifting groceries, pulling weeds – your muscles are going to be contracting and flexing. And stretching has its role, too. Of course, if you have any condition, you should check with a doctor or physical therapist about proper care in stretching – it is possible to damage something if you’re not supposed to be stretching it in certain ways.
The Mayo Clinic gives 4 reasons why stretching is important. Now reach both arms to your right and try to twist your spine to reach back even farther on your right as though you’re trying to look behind you, then look back here! You can use the chair to help deepen the stretch.
Start to make stretching a standard part of your week (or even a daily activity.) Here are some pointers from the Mayo Clinic about good stretching and safe stretching:
- Focus on major muscle groups, such as calves, thighs, hips, lower back, neck, and shoulders. Also focus on muscles and joints that you use routinely.
- Warm up first, or exercise first. It’s good to have a little blood flow going already – walk a few minutes, swing your arms or legs… or just stretch after exercise.
- Pace yourself. Reach slowly – don’t thrust too fast or too roughly into a position; hold about 30 seconds, relax, repeat. Do 3-4 times.
- Don’t bounce! This can actually cause small tears in your muscle (not the good kind used to build muscle), which can leave scar tissue, thereby tightening the muscle more as it tries to heal. This can lead to less flexibility and make you more prone to pain.
- It shouldn’t hurt. Expect tension, but not pain. If it hurts, you’ve gone too far, so back off a little and hold on that edge.
- Relax and breathe – don’t hold your breath.
- Ultimately, it’s up to you how often you stretch. But it’s good to try to stretch after exercising, or at least 3 times a week. You may want to do it more if you have tight joints or muscles.
- Know when to exercise caution. Don’t damage anything! Learn what feels right, and listen to your body.
I hope that about sums it all up for you! Have a great week!