Between sleeping and sitting, Americans are sedentary for an average of 21 hours a day! In the past 30 years, the amount of time spent sitting has increased 8%, and, on average, people gain 16 pounds within 8 month of starting a desk job. Let me just say that again so it sinks in; 16 POUNDS in 8 MONTHS!!!! That’s astounding to me. As life becomes increasingly sedentary, the body is adapting, and not in a good way. Prolonged sitting causes hip flexors to tighten, which along with a weak low back can lead to a pulling forward of the pelvis and a rounding of the spine, shoulders to hunch forward, and the muscles of the chest to tighten. All this is a recipe for muscle imbalance and injuries.
Stretching should be considered an integral part of any exercise regime, and should be done DAILY. A cold muscle should never be stretched, and more benefit is obtained from doing dynamic (movement based) stretching than from static (stretch and hold) stretching. NEVER EVER bounce while stretching as this can lead to muscle pulls or tears.
Benefits of stretching:
- Loosens muscles, tendons, and ligaments
- Fortifies posture
- Realigns hips, back/spine, chest and shoulders
- Range of Motion (ROM) increases
- Increases blood flow, which:
- Increases oxygen and nutrient delivery
- Aids in the recovery process
- Increases energy and stamina/endurance
- Releases endorphins
- Stress relief
- Increased positive outlook
- Increased body awareness (Proprioception)
- Less likely to trip and fall
- Less likely to injure oneself
- Exercise Performance elevates
- Primes and turns on muscles, getting them ready for the work ahead
- Less pain associated with movement
- Can work through entire exercise range of motion
- Can help alleviate muscle soreness
While lifestyles have gotten increasingly sedentary it is ever more important to focus on movement and flexibility through stretching. Not only will your body feel better short-term, through a daily stretching program it is also possible to avoid long-term injuries and ailments. Add stretching to your daily exercise routine, your body will thank you for it, trust me.