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The Importance of Stretching!

The Importance of Stretching!

With modern technology, many of us spend our working lives hunched over computer screens or crammed into car seats - very unnatural positions for the human body, which is designed for constant movement, to hold for hours on end. To make matters worse, many of us choose to spend too much of our leisure time again sitting, staring at screens and monitors. No wonder our muscles become tight, inflexible and knotted and no wonder lower back pain is one of the commonest reasons for time off work.

Of course, regular exercise is an essential antidote to our sedentary lives, fighting obesity and keeping us strong. However, the importance of stretching, before and after hitting the gym or participating in sport is often overlooked.

Stretching Improves Posture
Regular stretching improves posture and helps back pain.

Here are our top six benefits of making strectching part of your daily life : -

1. Stretching improves your circulation, increasing the blood supply to your muscles, feeding them with oxygen and nutrients and keeping them healthy.

2. Over time, stretching your muscles increases their flexibility and range of motion.

3. Stretching improves your posture, ensuring that your body is correctly aligned and counteracting slouching and hunching.

4. Stretching as part of your exercise routine can minimise the risk of injury and muscle soreness.

5. Stretching can release tension, loosening tight muscles, calming your mind and providing a very effective method of stress management.

6. Stretching can improve your energy levels, again by increasing your blood flow, leaving you feeling invigorated and energetic.

Stretching gives you time to become aware of your general well-being.

To make the most of all these benefits, it is important to get into the habit of spending a few minutes every day stretching, using the correct technique: -

· It is essential to warm up your muscles before starting your stretches by taking a short walk or gentle jog. Sudden, vigorous stretching may damage cold muscles.

· Do not overwork muscles if you have sustained an injury. Ease up if you feel any pain and take things gently. You should feel some tension in your muscles, but no pain.

· Focus on the major muscle groups in your legs, hips, shoulders, neck and arms and make sure you stretch both sides of your body in turn to maintain equilibrium.

· Hold each stretch for 30 seconds and do not hold your breath – breathe normally.

· Consider taking up yoga, Pilates or tai chi – forms of gentle exercise that focus on stretching and posture.

· If you have any health concerns, particularly after an injury, talk to your doctor or physiotherapist about the best way to help your body with gentle stretching.

Remember - get advice from a qualified personal trainer or gym instructor about the stretching technique that will give you the maximum gain, as part of your overall fitness regime.

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