The Benefits of Stretching for a Healthier You

Start your day! But first, don’t forget to stretch.

Before getting out of bed, it’s normal to release your arms into the air and hold your hands up high.

Then, after a deep in and out, your arms come down and it’s time to start the day.

While this stretch is essential every morning, did you ever think about how necessary a stretch in your legs, shoulders, neck and every muscle in you is needed, too?

As we consider our next move from bed, it’s important to stretch out your whole body. And, not just in the morning, but also throughout the entire day and night.

If you have yet to stretch today, here are some reasons why you need to begin.

1.  Stretching improves your posture

There is nothing sexy about a hunched back or poor posture – stretching daily can help prevent you from feeling anything less than your best.

Stretching out your back everyday can lead to improved posture. Poor back alignment cannot fully be fixed by always sitting straight. Realistically, we will forget and position ourselves back into that slumped comfortable posture.

There is however, a simple stretch that makes an impact.

Shoulder Rolls: Stand straight in a comfortable position. Raise your shoulder blades to your ears while inhaling. Then exhale and pull your shoulders and shoulder blades back down and together. Repeat this stretch throughout the day.

The best part about this stretch? It can be done sitting down while in class or at work.

2. It releases stress

Whether you are sitting on the couch watching TV, studying at the library for an exam or sitting in a club meeting, odds are, you’re feeling a bit stressed out.

While an entire yoga workout would surely relieve stress, there are stretches that can be done without having to dedicate an entire half-hour of your time.

If your day is just too stressful, stretch to release some stress.

Neck Stretches: Sit up straight, place your right hand on your seat to keep that straight position. Lift your left arm over your head and place that hand on the right-side of your head. Bend your head toward your left shoulder slowly, and hold the position for 10 counts. Next, change sides and repeat the stretch.

To release even more built up stress, perform neck rolls periodically throughout the day.

Neck Rolls: Keep your back straight, bend your head slightly forward, then carefully roll to either your left or right, then bring head back to original position. Repeat neck rolls, beginning with the opposite side.

3. Stretching prevents injuries

If you played sports in your youth, coaches always emphasized the importance of stretching before and after practices and games. In physical education classes, instructors always begin the class with a stretch to warm-up and end with a cool-down. This is done for good reason.

Before and after any type of exercise, stretching can help prevent long and short term injuries.

Full body stretches are most helpful to ease muscle soreness and release lactic acid. A toe touch stretch can be done seated or standing, stretching out your hamstrings, arms, back, neck and even toes.

Toe Touch Stretch: Standing or sitting down, stretch your legs out straight and bend at the waist. Try to reach your fingers to your toes, and hold the position for about 30 seconds.