Between the COVID-19 pandemic and the frigid outdoor temperatures, it has no doubt been difficult for many people to stay as active as they may like in recent weeks. But physical activity and exercise are always very important, regardless of the weather. There are five components of physical fitness, and three of them, specifically cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength, and muscular endurance, can be difficult to maintain while stuck indoors. But the other two, which are healthy body composition and flexibility, can be much more easily managed from the home. Body composition comes from exercise and healthy eating. Flexibility, on the other hand, can be achieved through the simple and effective activity of stretching. Here we discuss how stretching benefits your body and provide some tips and hints for implementing your own stretching regimen at home.
The Benefits of Stretching
A stretching program can help bring alignment to the joints of your shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles. When the body is properly aligned, mobility is increased and inflammation of the joints is reduced. Stretching consistently can improve range of motion, help relieve stiffness and muscle aches, help prevent injuries, and help improve structural problems.
A stretching routine has many benefits to it. Besides increased flexibility, stretching helps improves circulation and blood flow, align the body, relaxes and relieves stress, increases oxygen flow, enhances coordination, and helps relieve pain.
Good Stretching Form
When stretching or starting a stretching routine its always good to consult with an expert first. But here are some general tips to keep in mind while stretching:
- Wear comfortable clothing that won’t constrict movements
- Don’t force your body info difficult or painful positions – stretching should be pain free
- Move into a stretch slowly and avoid bouncing
- Hold stretches between 15 to 30 seconds to adequately lengthen and improve range of motion
- Stretch on a clean, flat surface that is large enough to move freely
- Repeat a stretch between two and five times
Another thing to remember is to get into a routine of stretching after you exercise. Stretching after a workout will assist in your body releasing lactic acid from muscle cells faster. It also increases blood flow and improves circulation which helps the muscles heal quicker as well. You are also less likely to get sore if you stretch.
The most important thing to remember when stretching or doing any form of exercise is to listen to your body. What works for one person may not be the right avenue for the next person. Stretching, like any exercise, also takes time to see a difference. Keep working toward your goals one day at a time and seek help when necessary.
As with any other physical activity, always put safety first. If you’re new to stretching, ease into it slowly. Starting hard and fast could actually make things worse. And while stretching is a great way to improve flexibility, it is not intended to be a treatment or cure to any physical ailment or medical condition, nor is it a substitute for professional medical advice. Before beginning a stretching routine, or if you have any other health-related concerns, please speak to your physician.
No matter where you are, or what time it may be, you can just about always find a moment for some good stretching!