This week, why not set aside a 45-minute session to stretch your body?
Why is it so that those with good flexibility love stretching, and those who have poor flexibility avoid it like the plague? I could never quite work this one out. Whether we like it or not stretching is one of the most important activities we can do to promote the health and vitality of our bodies.
I guess I count myself lucky as I love to stretch and there wouldn't be a day that goes by whereby I'm not doing some sort of stretching movement. Why? Because it feels so good! What I have just discovered after much research … is that contrary to common claim that stretching every day is needed to become flexible, a test, in which students in four frequency groups (from every day to once per week), found that those stretching every third day and once per week consistently made faster progress.
The test was conducted by Kit Laughlin, a world authority in stretching and strengthening techniques. He's written a number of books helping people to prevent or recover from injury and perform at their peak at work, at home and in sport, regardless of age or fitness level. There are exercises to suit everyone regardless of body type or level of flexibility and even a book designed especially for pregnant women.
When you think about our lifestyles today we'd be crazy not to spend more time stretching to improve our posture and flexibility. Whether you strut around in high heels, spend hours hunched over the computer, slouched in front of the TV, or working out at the gym, on the football field, dance floor, tennis court, or wherever else, life takes you all these activities or lack of have an impact on our posture and flexibility.
I'm sure you're all aware of how much tension builds up in the neck after a long day hunched over the computer or how debilitating it is to slouch in front of the TV for hours. And I'm sure there wouldn't be a doctor, chiropractor or physiotherapist that wouldn't back me up on the damage that wearing high heels creates in the structural alignment of our bodies.
According to The Mayo Clinic (a not-for-profit medical practice dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of virtually every type of complex illness), most aerobic and strength training programs inherently cause your muscles to contract and flex. That's why regular stretching is a powerful part of any exercise program. Consider this:
- Stretching increases flexibility. Flexible muscles can improve your daily performance. Tasks such as lifting packages, bending to tie your shoes, or hurrying to catch a bus become easier and less tiring.
- Stretching improves range of motion of your joints. Good range of motion keeps you in better balance which will help keep you mobile and less prone to falls — and the related injuries — especially as you age.
- Stretching improves circulation. Stretching increases blood flow to your muscles. Improved circulation can speed up recovery after muscle injuries.
- Stretching can relieve stress. Stretching relaxes the tense muscles that often accompany stress.
Sounds like a lot of good reasons to start stretching doesn't it?!
Written by Sam Sample