The majority of us sit at a desk each day, practicing poor posture hunched over a laptop. This slowly reduces the amount of movement our muscles are capable of and can lead to a host of problems.
We all know that stretching pre (and post) exercise is very beneficial to the body, but we don't seem to see beyond the sporting benefits of stretching. Stretching your muscles, just once a day can bring huge benefits to your everyday life, and protect against many other things. Although many of the benefits of stretching are known, we seem to bypass it and act like we can get away without any repercussions. There are a number of reasons behind the mass rejection of stretching among people, simply not being bothered being one of them! But more interestingly, we think its the lack of knowledge of actually how beneficial stretching can be to the human body, and we cant stress that enough.
For the body - The most obvious, yet still one of the best uses of stretching is simply to improve flexibility and range of motion. As we sit at our desks, slouch on our sofas, and hunch over our smartphones, muscles can become tighter and range of motion in the joints can be minimised. This lack of movement becomes more and more apparent as we age, and become more susceptible to muscle strains or other soft tissue injuries.
Once your muscles become chronically tense and tight, it contributes heavily to poor posture. Stretching combats this by lengthening tight muscles that pull areas of the body away from their intended position. Stretching the muscles of the lower back, chest and shoulders can help keep the spine in better alignment and improve overall posture.
It is widely known that stretching pre exercise prevents injury, by increasing blood flow to your muscles. This increase in flow brings with it a greater nutrient supply to muscles, thereby reducing muscle soreness and helping to speed recovery from muscle and joint injuries. Stretching also elongates your muscles and allows them to move through the whole range of motion they are capable of, thus reducing the risk of injury further.
For the Mind- This is one of the best, yet one of the most overlooked benefits of stretching. Sitting at a desk in a poor posture puts pressure on various muscles and constricts blood flow to different areas of the body. Combined with our modern hectic lifestyles, this creates stress.
A buildup of stress causes your muscles to contract, becoming tense. This tension can go on to have a negative impact on just about every part of your body. Like all types of exercises, flexibility exercises like stretching have powerful stress-busting abilities. Spending just a short amount of time (10-15 minutes) stretching each day can help calm the mind, providing a mental break and giving your body a chance to recharge.
There are various stretches and yoga poses that disperse this pressure build up and allow an increased level blood flow to your body. The effect of this being a boost of your mood, a more relaxed physical state, and a healthier circulation of blood around your body. A good example of a stretch which induces this mood chance is a downward dog - it elongates your hamstrings, increases blood flow to your head and back, and allows for better posture! The stretch can be done anywhere, so whilst your at work at your desk, take a minute or 2 to try this natural “feel good” stretch!
We’re just touching the tip of the iceberg here, with there being so many thousands of stretches and thousands of benefits that come with them, it makes it almost impossible to give a detailed account! Try some for yourself and let us know how its goes, who knows you may even relieve some stress and tension in the process.
The Shake It® Team