Here's Why You'll Never Want To Skip Stretching Again

Stretching is often overlooked. Perhaps because it doesn’t boast the visible results that other forms of exercise do. But one thing is certain, no matter your fitness level, stretching is important for everyone. With its many benefits, stretching can reduce your risk for injury and help you become more limber, regardless of your age or physical condition.

The Head-to-Toe Benefits of Stretching

Stretching provides numerous benefits for your body; it can improve your circulation and posture because it helps increase your range of motion, strength, coordination and flexibility. It also helps to activate muscles that may otherwise be left idle throughout the day, like your glutes.

Of course stretching is especially important before and after any work out. Beforehand it can help to warm up your muscles and prevent injury. Post work out, it can help relax tense muscles and prevent soreness.

Stretching Essentials

Believe it or not, there is a wrong way to stretch. But not to worry, these simple suggestions will help keep stretching beneficial for your whole body.

  • Breathe in deeply, then slowly exhale as you stretch the desired muscle to tension. Hold for up to 30 seconds, then relax and repeat the stretch a few more times (3-5 times).
  • Hold the stretch still (moving as little as possible), which can help prevent you from hurting yourself.
  • Mild discomfort or a mild pulling sensation is normal, but don't stretch a muscle to the point that it hurts.
  • Breathe normally as you stretch; never hold your breath.
  • Never bounce into a stretch. Make slow, steady movements instead. Jerking into position can cause muscles to tighten. This might result in injury.
  • Avoid "locking" your joints into place when you straighten them during stretches. Your arms and legs should be straight when you stretch them, but don't lock them in a tightly straight position. You should always have a very small amount of bending in your joints while stretching.

Your Stretching Starter Pack

These stretches are a great way to start an everyday stretching routine, you can even do them while sitting at your desk or standing in your work area. Doing them a few times a day will help release the muscle tension in your hands, arms, shoulders and back.

Do each stretch to the point of light tightness. Move your body slowly and gently. Remember to breathe deeply and regularly. Exhale as you bend into a stretch. Breathe in a controlled, rhythmic manner while you're in the stretch.

Wrists
Reach your arms out in front of you and rotate your wrists 10 times in a clockwise direction, then 10 times counterclockwise.

Arms and hands
Clasp your hands together in front of your chest at shoulder height. Extend your arms forward until you feel a stretch in your upper back, shoulders, arms, and hands. Hold for 15 seconds and relax. Repeat for 30 seconds.

Arms and shoulders
Lift 1 arm in front of you as if to grab something. Then use the other arm to pull the outstretched arm gently across the chest so that the muscles are stretched. Hold for 15 seconds and relax. Repeat for another 15 seconds to 30 seconds. Repeat, using your left arm.

Neck and shoulders
Sit tall in a chair. Let your right arm down and grasp the seat. Then try to tip the head toward the left side. Holding onto the seat keeps your shoulders level during the stretch. Hold for 15 seconds and relax. Repeat for another 15 seconds to 30 seconds. Repeat, using your left arm.

Chest
Bring your arms behind your back and link your fingers with your palms facing inward. Straighten your arms and lift them up until you feel a stretch in your arms, shoulders, and chest. Hold for 15 seconds and relax. Repeat the stretch for another 15 seconds to 30 seconds.

Back
Sit tall in your chair and try to turn to grab the back of the chair while keeping your feet flat on the floor. Hold for 15 seconds and relax. Repeat the stretch turning to the other side.

Hips
Cross 1 ankle onto the opposite knee and sit tall. Then, lean forward from your hips, keeping your chest upright. This stretches the outer hip, which is the reason for many back problems. Hold for 15 seconds and relax. Repeat using the other leg.

Stretching is Only the Beginning
Stretching is an important part of any workout routine, but it shouldn’t stop there. With unique fitness goals and needs, you deserve a customized exercise program that is tailored to suit your individual needs.

Gwinnett Medical Center’s Fitness & Performance Center offers comprehensive fitness assessments and personal training from dedicated experts. These personalized services will help you enjoy exercise like never before. 

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