This week's topic is simple and very valuable to everyone, regardless if you have an injury or not. Stretching is important to keep our muscles, bones and organs healthy. In order to minimize muscle spasms and stiffness we need to incorporate stretching in our daily regime. Many jobs these days involve many hours of constant sitting which initiates joint stiffness and decreased range of motion. By taking little breaks and completing a couple stretches you can limit that stiffness and prevent future aches and pains. Continue to read about specific stretches that will help you get through the day.
An eight-hour work day, especially when associated with sitting in one position, can cause muscle tightness. The simple solution is to stretch your body at regular intervals whether you're at the office, at home, or outdoors. Here are some tips to remember when stretching.
- Don't rush. Start stretching slowly. Do not overstretch.
- Breathe normally. Never hold your breath.
- When stretching, hold the stretch for about 15 to 20 seconds and feel the tension in your muscles subside as they stretch.
- Repeat the same stretch 2 to 3 times to improve your muscle flexibility.
- Avoid sudden movements when stretching.
- Enjoy stretching. Use the time to relax.
- Maintain good posture while stretching.
- If you feel any discomfort, pain, tingling, numbness, or loss of strength, stop stretching and contact your physician or physical therapist immediately.
Stretching helps improve blood circulation, release tension, and boost energy. Don't forget to take a few minutes to stretch every day.
It's simple and easy to stretch your muscles. Regular stretching has several benefits including:
- Improved circulation. Stretching increases blood flow which brings nourishment to your muscles and gets rid of waste products. This helps reduce recovery time for muscle injuries.
- Decreased muscle tension, anxiety, stress, and fatigue.
- Increased flexibility and joint range of motion. You feel refreshed and relaxed after you stretch.
- Improved exercise performance. Stretching before exercise is a good way to increase the effectiveness of exercise.
Working in an office usually means sitting in one area for several hours. This ultimately leads to bad posture and low back pain due to tight hip flexors and shortened hamstrings. You can help prevent these aches and pains by performing the following simple stretches:
- Finger and Hand Stretches: Place your hands on your desk, and stretch your hands while spreading your fingers until you feel a stretch. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
- Wrist Stretches: Sit upright in your office chair. Lift one arm and stretch it out in front of you with your palm facing upward. Gently grab your fingers with your other hand. Slowly pull the hand of your extended arm down. Hold 10 seconds. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
- Shoulder Stretches: Lift your right arm and reach behind your head. Place your hand on your upper back making certain your arm is as close to your ear as possible. Use your left hand to gently hold your right elbow while pulling it towards the back of your head. Hold for 15 seconds.
- Spine Twist: While sitting upright in your chair, place your left arm behind your left hip. Hold onto your chair as you twist your upper body to the left. Place your right hand onto your chair to increase your stretch. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat this exercise five times with each side.
For more information on the right stretching techniques for you, please contact your physical therapist. We'll help you restore muscle flexibility by teaching you the right (and wrong) ways to stretch.