Why do we need to stretch?

For the human body to have optimum performance, it is essential to have a full and free range of motion in all of the joints. Stretching is an essential component of reaching and maintaining this level of function within the body. The soft tissue structures of the body (muscles, ligaments, fascia etc.) all require regular stretching to maintain optimal function. This stretching can occur through our normal daily activities or through specified stretching routines.

Unfortunately, the modern lifestyle (e.g. sitting at a desk all day, inactivity etc.) tends to lead to imbalances in tension through the body. The majority of people need to specifically address these imbalances in order to maintain optimal movement of their body. If these altered tensions are not addressed, simple activities that were once easy to do (i.e. putting on your shoes) can become difficult. When a person has to alter their life to accommodate for these imbalances in tension, further tensions will arise and the situation can spiral out of control. Once an individual finds themselves in this position a lot of life’s ‘normal’ activities can become tiring as they find themselves continually working against their own internal resistance.

Stretching does not have to require a huge time commitment but it can have a huge impact! Here are a few of the benefits that you can expect from a regular stretching program:

  • Reduced muscle tension
  • Increased range of movement in the joints
  • Enhanced muscular coordination
  • Increased circulation of the blood to various parts of the body
  • Increased energy levels
  • Increased balance and spatial awareness

Everyone can learn to stretch, regardless of age or flexibility. Stretching should be a part of your daily routine whether you engage in vigorous exercise or not. Below are some simple stretches that you can do post workout, while watching TV or perhaps before getting ready for bed.

Some key points for you to remember when stretching;

  • Stretching is meant to reduce tension so don’t hold your breath as this increases tension
  • Only take your muscle to a position that you can still remain relaxed in
  • Hold each position for 20-30 seconds
  • If the stretch becomes easy take yourself deeper into the movement
  • Always stretch both sides of the body
  • Stay well hydrated

Good luck and remember, be good to your muscles and they will be good to you!!

Click here to download the stretch chart.

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