Originally published on 4/26/2020
If there’s one thing that this pandemic has taught us, it’s the fact that health is, indeed, wealth. It’s easy to ignore your physical, and even your mental state, when you’re constantly under so much stress and pressure.
You might think that you’re doing good until you’re suddenly not. Stress can definitely manifest itself physically. So if you usually spend your day in front of your computer dealing with work or catching up on your deadlines, you might feel some discomfort or soreness in your body— particularly in your back, neck, and shoulders
This is why learning when to catch a break is very important. We all should know when to step back and evaluate how we are treating ourselves–mentally and physically.
One of the best ways to do this is to encourage yourself to move. You don’t have to spend a whole day for exercise or yoga, but a good 5 minutes allotted to stretching and meditation can be a real game changer.
In this article, we’ll talk about the importance of daily stretching and how those few minutes of your day can impact your lifestyle.
Why is Daily Stretching Important?
We always hear from fitness coaches or other health experts about daily stretching and encouraging people to stretch before exercise or even as soon as they wake up.
It could be easy to think that this is totally unnecessary unless you are performing elite-level sports or doing a high-intensity workout, however stretching is vital even when you’re just going on with your normal day.
Stretching is done not only to prepare for vigorous exercises but also to help preserve our mobility and independence. Even if you are not planning on exercising heavily, it is still important to stretch daily in order to enjoy the health benefits.
Daily stretching helps improve blood flow, release tension in different areas of your body, and it also contributes to reducing health risks. As you become more consistent in doing this, the more visible the changes are not only in your body but also in your mind.
Starting your day with a good stretching session can help relieve any tension or discomfort that you have. In the same way, doing this at night can make you loosen up and your muscles more relaxed thus allowing you to have a better sleep.
Stretching Can Help Prevent Pain and Injuries
Lack of stretching can lead to inflexibility which can further result in serious injuries. Without stretching, the muscles shorten and become tight – limiting the range of motion in the joints. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way, which puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage.
For example, sitting in a chair all day results in tight hamstrings, making it harder to extend your leg. Then, you start some strenuous activity such as running or playing tennis, which then suddenly stretches the hamstrings and may cause damage.
Injured muscles may not be strong enough to support the joints, which can then lead to joint injury. Regular stretching keeps muscles flexible, strong, and healthy. When you constantly stretch, you prepare and allow your muscles to get used to the movement. This is extremely helpful when you have sudden movements during various activities. If you’re constantly stretching and training your muscles, exertion won’t have too much force on the muscle hence lesser risk for injuries.
Stretching Can Help Prevent Stiffness
Likewise, every night as we sleep, our muscles “turn off” and go into recovery mode where they lie still for many hours. While the muscle fibers repair and build, the fascia that surrounds the muscles also rebuilds and stiffens.
When you wake up in the morning, the only way to get rid of that stiffness that you feel is to stretch it out.
Just as a cat or dog does when they awake, the first thing they do is stretch! It’s a natural instinct for them to keep their body limber as a means of survival, it’s intuitive. A limber body protects us from injury as well as improves the quality of all aspects of life. Over time, the fascia stiffens further, becoming calcified if we do not take the time to stretch the daily – which again leads to decreased movement and possible injury.
There might have been days when you felt difficulty in moving your body as soon as you woke up. This might be because of your sleeping position or perhaps where you’re sleeping in general. It could cause some kinks in your neck, shoulders, and back which can only be alleviated once you stretch and slowly move your body.
Luckily, you can prevent this from constantly happening by doing your daily stretches– in the morning or even before sleeping. It is best to find the time to make stretching a priority.
Stretching Reduces Muscle Soreness
Being flexible helps us in a lot of ways, even without us recognizing it. You will experience fewer muscle aches and pains generally if you have flexible, and well-conditioned muscles, even without an injury present. Because stretching allows for an increase in nutrient-dense blood supply to flow throughout your body, it helps to reduce muscle soreness.
Most of us carry stress in our muscles, particularly when feeling overwhelmed, muscles tighten acting as a defensive mechanism. The more you stretch, the less tense your muscles will be. This then makes stretching a very effective form of stress management.
If you are dealing with overly tight muscles, it is important to focus more on those areas first so that blood flow increases and tension is reduced. Once you’ve stretched out these tense muscles, movement becomes more fluid-like and soreness is reduced over time.
Additionally, stretching prepares the muscles for any activity that you’ll be doing. That’s why every time you do some type of exercise, you are always encouraged to do stretching as this prevents your body from being shocked because of the sudden movement.
A lot of people might find stretching unnecessary, especially if they’re just going for a light workout, however, if your body is not used to these activities, there is a chance that it would cause some type of stress to your muscles. Make sure that you prep your muscles and joints before every activity!
Stretching is Good For Your Metal Health!
As mentioned, daily stretching is great for stress management, not only for the physical body but also provides your mind with a mental break.
With the fresh oxygenated blood flow, it allows you to recharge, resulting in a calmer and more peaceful mindset. Along with this, your energy levels will be increased resulting in a sense of vitality.
You can also incorporate meditation into your daily stretches. As you release any tension in your body, try to remove any anxiety and worries that you’re feeling. There are a lot of quick routines that could help you get started on this.
It is ideal to do it in the morning so you can have a clear mind before starting your day, but you are always free to do it if you’re feeling a bit tense and anxious. Include it in your routine look how it will change you.
The Cumulative Effects of Daily Stretching
Stretching every now and then won’t be enough to give you the flexibility needed for optimal health. You have very likely developed tight muscles and stiffness over many years and so it makes sense that you’re not going to be completely flexible after one or two sessions!
You’ll need to remain committed to the daily process over quite a few months to get flexible, and you’ll have to continue to maintain it. Try to set the expectations early on so that you can also understand how your body works. If you’re having a hard time keeping track of yourself, you can always set a reminder in your phone or journal to help you maintain consistency.
Likewise, you can start by allotting a few minutes in the morning first, and once you’ve gotten the hang of it, you may extend it to a couple more. In the end, what matters most is that you focus on your goal.
Remember that you’re not just doing this for short-term benefits. We also need that flexibility to maintain good physical posture and balance. Each day builds upon the previous and this ensures you will be as limber and pain-free as possible for life.
What Stretches Are Best?
There are a few ways to stretch, depending on your physical condition, the body part you’re stretching, and what you plan to do immediately after your stretch routine.
It is best to do a light warm-up of walking, jogging on the spot, skipping, cycling, or rowing on the machines and star-jumps, etc to get your heart rate up and blood pumping before you start your stretching!
At that point, you can do dynamic movement type stretches which involve moving through your full range of motion to gently expand your range. You could also simply do static-type stretches, holding for a period of 30 seconds or more in a full (safe) stretch position.
Yoga is a great way to incorporate stretching into your daily routine, and there are different styles that allow you to do either type of stretch.
For the long and slow poses, you can do yin yoga or restorative yoga. Conversely, if you want to do more dynamic stretching, you could choose a yang style such as power flow.
There are several guides and sample routines out there that you may follow. The challenge is mainly settling for one that fits right into your lifestyle, physical state, and even mood.
Start Slow with Stretching
In this article, we go into more detail and run through a great all-around daily stretching routine that anyone can do. It is important to note that you should start slow and ease into it.
The goal is to help your body get more used to movements which in turn increases range of motion and flexibility. There will be some adjustments that can result in a tolerable amount of pain but it should not cause too much stress on your body.
You’d know that you’re going too hard once you feel any sudden sharp or burning pain. Should you be in this situation, the first thing you need to do is stop and let your body relax. If the pain persists, immediately call for help whether it’s your friend or a health professional.
If you have any underlying conditions or injuries, it is best to check with your doctor first so you can run through the routines that are suitable for you.
Stretching is FUN with a Yoga Swing!
As with anything though, it is tough to get going and start a new habit, but once you start to build the momentum you will find it easier to keep it going. At the very least, try stretching 3-4 times per week. Stretching is a great way to take a break from your busy day to recharge and strengthen your body and your mind.
Making your daily stretching fun with a Yoga Swing Workout will help a lot in forming this positive habit. Aerial Yoga uses different tools such as aerial swings or even hammocks in the routines. If you’ve tried yoga before, this is just an elevated version that is best for people who are looking for new hobbies or those that just want a challenge.
You can make it a dance, and let the movement flow through you. Or as mentioned above, yoga is amazing for cultivating flexibility.
You might even enjoy doing your stretches inverted or even mid-air!
Of course, we believe one of the best and most enjoyable ways to stretch out your body is by using the Gravotonics Yoga Swing! This just takes your stretching, yoga, and fitness workouts to a whole other level so check them out today!