The Importance of Stretching

Do your muscles feel tight at the end of the day?  That’s because you are probably neglecting to stretch regularly, causing your muscles to shorten and become tight.  By stretching you help keep your muscles flexible, healthy, and strong, the way they are supposed to be.  When your muscles are tight and inflexible, they are unable to perform normal, everyday activities.  When your muscles become weak you are at a greater risk for strains, joint pains, and damage to your muscles.

Most of us are sitting in a chair all day at work, so it is very important to stretch your muscles every day in order to keep them healthy and strong so you can continue with your regular workout routine.  By stretching frequently, your muscles stay flexible and become long and lean.  Stretching can also lead to better blood flow, posture, and fewer aches and pains.

It’s important to figure out which areas of your body need the most vigorous stretching.  The muscles in your lower body, your neck, shoulders, and lower back seem to be the areas with the most tightness.  To be effective, find a routine you can be committed to.

While sitting all day, we are actually hindering the nerves in our glutes that can lead to degeneration of those muscles over time.  When these muscles shut down, other areas of your body begin to become over-stressed and shut down like your knees, ankles, and lower back.

Speaking of backs, your thoracic spine is crucial to your overall health.  When this area of your body, the middle part of your spine, becomes tight, areas throughout the rest of your body can begin to shut down as well.  It is important to stretch out the muscles in this part of your body throughout the day to loosen them up.

If you have a current workout routine, stretching daily, especially after your workouts, helps you to feel less tense and helps your muscles to begin the repairing process.  The proper way to do this is to hold the stretch until you feel the first signs of your muscles resisting that pose.  Once you feel that, keep with it and use your breathing to help you get through it.  If stretching on the ground is uncomfortable for you, you can use padding, trying it sitting, standing, or lying down, just make sure that whatever you choose is what is comfortable for you so you will continue to practice stretching every day.

A great way to incorporate stretching into your daily routine, and add some fitness, is to take up yoga.  Yoga is a great way to lengthen and strengthen your muscles while teaching your body to become more flexible.  The best part about practicing yoga is that it can be done anywhere, either in a yoga studio, at home, in the airport, etc.  If you are lucky like we are, you may just have a yoga studio nearby where learned yogis will teach you the proper ways to practice.  If you are in Pittsburgh and near PNC Park, you should check out our local yoga studio, Urban Elements, and sign up for a class.

 

Sources: http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-importance-of-stretching
http://www.shape.com/fitness/workouts/6-good-reasons-you-need-stretch

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