Whether you’re working towards being more bendy or just need a respite after a long day at work, stretching isn’t something to be sniffed at.
One major misconception about stretching is that it’s just a post workout routine that needs to be done to prevent lactic acid build up which could lead to muscle fatigue. Do note that it is best to stretch when your muscles are warm such as during yoga or after any exercise. Other than preventing muscle fatigue, stretching has other benefits too.
There’s no need to become stretchy like a rubber band but with good flexibility – how much a muscle can lengthen – daily tasks are made easier. Tasks such as lifting your groceries or picking up your keys require a certain amount of flexibility to prevent injury. Improved flexibility is also a form of anti-ageing because it combats a sign of ageing where the muscles shorten and become tighter.
Exercising draws synovial fluid, a natural lubricant our body produces, to our joints which keeps your joints moving smoothly and stably. This improves your range of motion which means how far your joints can extend your limbs. With an improved range of motion, this also improves your mobility and agility.
This is where yoga comes in. Yoga incorporates strength, flexibility and breathing exercises to improve physical and mental wellbeing. Regular yoga practice has been found to be helpful for people with high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, depression and stress. Take heed especially if you have a stressful job and need a relaxing form of exercise.
With improved flexibility where your muscles can stretch to fit your actions, your posture could get better. Tight muscles due to a sedentary lifestyle can lead to bad posture which throws your back’s alignment out of whack. To help break your habit of staying still for too long at the office or home, set an alarm to ring every 30 minutes to get you moving and do a few stretches to keep you limber.
As mentioned in point 4, a sedentary lifestyle could contribute to bad posture which could lead to lower back pain. Stretching or yoga could help provide relief from back pain that stems from sitting for long periods of time. Doing stretches that target the quadriceps and hamstrings (thigh), pelvis and hip muscles could help ease lower back pain.