The Importance of Stretching
I feel so stiff and achy in the mornings. Normally, my reasons for getting out of bed is because I have to pee from all the fluids I drunk the night before (I gotta work on that). Studying martial arts or any type of exercise emphasis flexibility to prevent injury. But not all of us workout. Some of us have to jump out of bed, get the kids ready, get to work, get to class, so getting exercise is when people usually take the time to stretch. It's not a habit we should keep. In fact, stretching should be done as soon as you wake up. Even before we brush our teeth.
My reason for stretching before I do anything is to maximize my flexibility from doing normal day-to-day things like going up steps or lifting things. I work alone most times, so I need to be sure that my body can perform basic functions like bending over, lifting buckets of soap, climbing up and down steps, while lifting heavy boxes. What I do is labor intensive and I work with my hands so flexibility (along with strength, is very important.) Our bodied deteriorate and stiffen the older we get and stretching is the best way to keep the muscles loose and ready for any movement.
What Stretching Does:
- Releases stiffness and tension from your sleep the night before.
- Warms up the body and muscles to prevent pulling of stiff muscles.
- Increases blood flow to muscles and joints which can assist in the decrease of joint stiffness.
- Stress causes muscles to tense and this strain can negatively affect your body. Stretching muscles alleviates tension and relaxes muscles which can help reduce stress.
- Stretching the full body can alliate lower back pain by easing the muscles.
- Increases flexibility.
- Adds years to your life.
When to Stretch:
You can stretch whenever you'd like. The more stretching the better, however, you can over stretch. Know the difference (stretching shouldn't cause pain).
AM Stretching: Many people are under the impression that stretching is only done before and after a workout. That couldn't be more farther from the truth. Stretching can be done at any time. My stretching routine begins first thing in the morning and right before bed. You can stretch if you've been at a desk too long. You can stretch acting getting out of the car. You can stretch after grocery shopping. Stretching in the AM can release tension and prep the body for the day ahead.
PM Stretching: Right before bed, stretching can help you relax your muscles so you can sleep deeper, better and longer. I like slower stretching before bed, with deep meditative breathing to relax and silence my mind from all the crazy thoughts from the day. You can stretch in bed too. That can be really relaxing and stress reducing.
Add stretching to your daily routine. You can stretch for 5 mins out of your day. Start slow. Don't be intimidated by what you see yogis doing on Instagram. Listen to your body, and always be sure to breath with each stretch. It's easy. It costs you nothing but good health. You don't even have to leave your bed to do it. Instead of picking up your phone and ruining your mental clarity, stretch your body, release body tension and have a clear mind to enjoy the day.