Are you hitting a wall in your work day? Finding it difficult to concentrate in your makeshift home office? Does your body ache because it misses your fancy ergonomic office chair that is sitting unused at your desk at work?
You might need a good stretch. Seriously. Daily stretching can do wonders for your body as well as your mind.
And making stretching a regular part of your day prevents you from sitting too long, which can lead too a host of issues.
What are the benefits of stretching?
Stretching improves your flexibility and helps prevent injuries when doing physical activity. If you dive into exercise – minor or major – without proper stretching, you might find yourself with a painful pulled muscle.
Stretching can also help you manage your stress. When life is asking just a bit too much of you, your muscles tend to tighten. Stretching can calm you down and release that tension because it refreshes your body’s blood flow to your muscles. All that blood flow brings needed nutrients to your muscles, too, which can raise your energy levels.
Tips for safe stretching
You’re probably saying: “Wow, stretching is great! Let’s get started.” Before you do, you need to learn how to stretch safely.
- DON’T STRETCH COLD MUSCLES
If you’re stretching for a break in your day, warm up your muscles with some gentle running or marching in place or a walk around the block before you focus on your flexibility.
- BOUNCING IS BAD
It can actually tear your muscles and ultimately make them tighter. Hold your stretches anywhere from 15 seconds to a full minute, repeating that three to four times at least two to three times a week. And it shouldn’t hurt. If you’re feeling pain, ease up. Flexibility takes time.
- FOCUS ON SYMMETRY
Try to treat each side of your body the same. If one side is more flexible than the other, you are at risk for injury.
Ready to get started? Step away from your desk, do a little warm up, find some space and see how these work for you.
This is great for your spine and can help relieve back pain. Place your palms flat on the floor under your shoulders and look straight down at the mat with your neck in a neutral position.
Keeping your feet, thighs and pubic bone pressed into the floor, inhale while lifting your chest off the floor. Roll your shoulders back and lift your head so your chin points forward.
The cat pose helps improve your posture, balance and coordination. It also can help relieve stress and strengthen your spine and neck.
Start on your hands and knees in a position like a tabletop, knees under hips, wrists and elbows under shoulders and eyes on the floor.
Take a deep breath and as you exhale, round your spine toward the ceiling and lower your head toward the floor. Inhale and go back to the neutral tabletop position on your hands and knees. (This is often paired with the cow pose, which is basically the opposite stretch, allowing your stomach to drop toward the floor.)
Your hamstrings are the muscles at the back of your thigh. They come in handy when we’re walking, running or jumping so it’s good to keep them flexible.
Start by lying flat on your back with your legs stretched out. Grab the back of your right knee and pull it toward your chest, keeping your left leg stretched out on the ground.
Straighten your right leg as you pull it toward you, making sure to keep both hips on the ground. Repeat on the left side. (You can also do this with an exercise strap over the ball of your lifted foot.)
Standing Side Bend
Worried about your posture? It can be improved by the standing side bend because this stretch strengthens your core muscles and keeps your body properly aligned, which leaves you slouching less.
When you take a side bend without leaning either forward or backward, you open up the muscle tissue surrounding your spine and your rib cage and you encourage a taller stance.
To do it, stand with your feet together or, for added balance, about hips’ distance apart and reach both arms straight overhead as you inhale. Exhale as you begin bending your body to one side.
You can do this with your hands clasping your elbows behind your head, hands clasped above your head or one hand lifted while the other reaches down the side you’re bending. Repeat on the other side.
See? Stretching is easy, it doesn’t require a lot of time and the rewards are many. Looking for more healthy living tips? Check out more blogs at Amway Connections.