A Stretch A Day Keeps the Pain Away
It’s a common misconception that stretching is only for athletes to use before and after exercise. But, the truth is that daily stretching is important for our overall health, regardless of our exercise habits. Whether your job requires you to lift heavy materials or sit stationary at a desk, our bodies do a lot for us during the day. We climb stairs, walk long distances, and carry children. All of these movements effect our bodies in many different ways. Fortunately, stretching is a simple and effective solution.
Stretching keeps our muscles long and lean. This, in turn, keeps us mobile and flexible. Without stretching, our muscles become contracted and tight, which makes it more difficult to extend them and increases our risk of falling or getting injured. Athletes are certainly more prone to muscle related injuries, but even regular daily tasks can put stress and tension on our muscles. Think about sitting at a desk and using a computer. Even though you aren’t exerting much energy, those small repetitive movements like typing or moving a mouse can have a profound effect on the body, especially in the neck and back. Even sitting for long periods of time can put stress on your muscles causing pain in your lower back.
Consistent stretching might seem overwhelming, especially for those who are unfamiliar with the different types and techniques. There are a few simple stretches that can help relieve common pain such as discomfort in the neck or lower back. Here are a few to try at home, but remember to consult your doctor before stretching, especially if you suffer from severe or chronic pain.
- Ear to Shoulder: Begin by facing straight ahead, gently move your left ear to left shoulder, and then on the right side—right ear to right shoulder.
- Chin to Chest: Carefully bring your chin down, coming as close as you can to your chest. Hold for a moment, but release if you feel extreme pain.
- Chin to Ceiling: Slowly bring your chin forward, as far as you can go. Keep your eyes focused directly on the ceiling. Hold for a moment, and carefully bring your chin back down. Cradle the back of your head with your hands if needed. If you have trouble with balance, make sure you begin this stretch in a seated position.
- Child’s Pose: On a mat, come to your knees. Carefully straighten your back and lower your belly, chest, and forehead to the mat. Make sure your knees wider than hip distance apart. Straighten your arms, place them on the mat alongside your ears. Hold for 1 minute.
- Knee to Chest: Begin this stretch by lying on your back, gently bring your knees together, lift and bend them until they reach your chest. Hold for a moment and release.
- Twist: Being by lying on your back. With your knees together, bring them across your body to the right side of your mat, and then to the left. Hold.Whether you’re getting ready for your next marathon or have a long day at work, always remember to stretch it out!