Daily stretching helps functional movement and easy enough to do every day (video)

Did you know stretching decreases the likelihood of injuries, increases joint range of motion, improves posture and freedom of movement and increases circulation?

Daily stretches may also help release mental and physical tension, manage pain and body discomfort and help functional movement.

Most people set weekly strength and cardiovascular fitness goals but skip the important element of stretching. No matter your age or physical ability, adding daily stretches enhances balance, flexibility and mobility. Stretching can be done anytime throughout the day. Incorporate them alongside simple daily tasks so that you create a routine. You only need a few minutes to get the ache out of sore or stiff muscles and you don’t need expensive equipment. No more excuses to skip daily stretching.

Stretching can be active [dynamic] or still [static] and both work well depending on how tight your muscles are at the start of your stretch routine. or instance, when you wake from a night’s sleep and your muscles have been inactive, it may feel best to move slowly and actively by stretching all limbs while still laying down. Then as you sit up, stay seated and tilt your head side to side [ear to shoulder] and twist your neck right and left [chin over shoulder] to move your cervical spine.

Also, while seated, roll forward slowly from the hips and reach both hands to the floor to lengthen the spine and stretch the back’s posture muscles. These moves may be repeated slowly and deliberately while taking deep breaths until you feel you’re ready to stand.

Once up, and likely warmer, holding stretches for 30-60 seconds or more during the day may be more appropriate. This could include standing split-stance calf stretches while brushing teeth or clasping hands behind your back to open your chest and shoulders while watching television or sitting at a desk. Even adding an extra reach when grabbing something from a high shelf has benefits. Joints and muscles should stay active regularly to feel your best.

Make stretching a daily habit and see how much taller you feel throughout the day. Whether you are an avid exerciser or not, you’ll benefit from adding even a few stretches to your routine.

Everyday tasks such as cooking, vacuuming, doing laundry, yard work, driving and typing at a computer contribute to muscle tightness. These activities involve either repetitive action or a lack thereof and, in both cases, can cause aches and pains. It’s common to have muscle tightness in the neck, shoulders, back, hips and legs but thankfully, it’s quite simple to alleviate discomfort from stretching.

My best advice when starting out is to begin at the top of your body [neck] and work your way down to your toes, moving all limbs, joints and muscles in an orderly manner so that nothing is forgotten. Be mindful during each move to inhale and exhale. Stretching may feel challenging at first but never painful.

Enjoy your new stretch regiment and see how quickly you’re able to complete daily tasks with less tension.

Sherry Sweitzer is a Group Fitness and Pilates Instructor at Privé-Swiss Fitness, an award-winning, boutique fitness studio, located at 1587 Boston Post Road, Westbrook, 757 Boston Post Road, Madison and 57 Main St., Ivoryton; phone: 860-391-8735; website: www.priveswissfitness.com.

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