Most of us have heard about how daily stretching can help decrease the risk of injuries, but it can also reduce muscle tension, help improve posture, increase range of motion and decrease pain all at the same time!
Muscles, like any other tissue on our body, need circulation and movement in order to be healthy. When we don’t stretch, our muscles become fatigued and overused in certain positions making them weak and less pliable.
A lot of people who spend a great deal of time in front of the computer seem to experience the aches of lower back pain. When someone spends a lot of time seated, the front of their body, where the legs are bent, starts to get really tight and the lower back becomes overstretched. The hip flexors (muscles that raise up the leg) stay contracted for long periods and contribute to this pain.
Stretching can provide symptom relief. If you stretch your neck often, you can actually reduce headaches. Stretching the back and hamstrings as well can reduce backaches. Think of your muscles like a bungee cord.
Why Is Stretching Important?
Stretching can also keep you more elastic and flexible. When you have flexibility, you hurt less and move better. Your joints have less resistance to movement so you actually use your energy better because the body doesn’t fight itself so much.
When you observe children, they never seem to be uncomfortable no matter what position you put them in. They just seem to mold into it because they are so flexible and elastic. When you are tight, it takes more energy to move. The pain factor also comes into play. As the body ages, it hurts more and when people hurt, they want to move less. If you are flexible, you have more supple muscle, so the pain is less.
One of the single most important stretches to do daily for the neck and head is turning the head to the left and then to the right. People who use computers and cell phones are well stretched in the up and down position, but can rarely turn their head left and right properly. A person should be able to get 70-80 degrees of a turn and be able to look over their shoulder.
An interesting thing I’ve noticed is that my football player patients, even the older ones who played on the line, have pretty good neck flexibility. The same goes with basketball players. This is pretty much due to the constant turning of the head and looking around to see who is coming after them!
It just takes a couple of minutes a day to incorporate some stretches into your daily routine of life. You’ll feel younger and healthier in the long run!