Happy, Healthy Body – Stretch at Work
Do you sit most of your work day? Are your muscles tight or have you ever injured yourself because you didn’t stretch? Take short breaks throughout your workday to get up and stretch. Gently stretch your neck, arms, shoulders. Don’t forget your lower body too. It’s important to know our hamstrings tighten in the back of our thighs from hours sitting in a chair. This makes it harder to straighten the leg, or even knees, which can inhibit our range of motion. Tight (or shortened) muscles can then become damaged during strenuous exercise from suddenly being stretched. Harvard Health explained it this way, “it’s not enough to build muscle and achieve aerobic fitness. You need to think about flexibility, too. Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage.” When working out, stretch muscles that are warmed up. When everything is cold, the fibers are not prepared to stretch and may be damaged. You can do a quick 5 minute warmup ahead of time or you can stretch after your workout, whichever one works best for you. Remember, feeling some tension during a stretch is OK, but pain is not.
Want more benefits of stretching? 1. It increases blood circulation and helps your muscles recover from your workout. This ultimately helps reduce tight muscles and muscle soreness. 2. It helps reduce anxiety and manage stress. Well-stretched muscles hold less tension and, therefore, can help you feel less stressed. It may even help prevent headaches if you regularly stretch your neck muscles. 3. It decreases the risk of low-back pain. Flexibility in the hamstrings, hip flexors and muscles attached to the pelvis relieves stress on the lumbar spine, which in turn reduces your risk of low-back pain. 4. It can help improve digestion by increasing blood flow to the bowels, reduce inflammation and gastritis, and strengthen the intestines. 5. It can help improve posture by stretching the muscles of the lower back, shoulders and chest helping keep your back in better alignment.
All the evidence shows that taking a few minutes out of your day to stretch can bring many benefits, contributing to a happy, healthy body!
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