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Stretch! Stretch! Stretch!

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Stretch, Stretch, Stretch!

( a reason to stretch more? Spring is here and hopefully we will be increasing our outdoor activity levels. So today as a reminder we'll look at several reasons to stretch more, and I do suggest we stretch everyday! Every day we move, bend, sit, walk, (crane our necks?) and a host of other activities. We also have our sedentary moments such as when we sleep at night in the wrong position at times (ever wake up feeling stiff?). And now as we head outdoors, we will be exercising more often on different surfaces such as when we run outdoors. Stretching can help our bodies make the adjustment!

So, for those of us who stretch occasionally, rarely, or never ( I hope it's not never!), here is a tip about stretching that I send out at least once a year. And for those of us who do stretch almost everyday here are our rewards:

Flexibility is a component of fitness. When we increase our flexibility, we help to increase our overall level of fitness AND we may possibly increase other aspects of fitness such as muscular strength and endurance (ever have a stiff joint and feel fit?).

Stretching can ease Repetitive Stress Syndrome. This is also called overuse syndrome. Do you sit at a computer? Ever hear of carpal tunnel syndrome, or have you developed poor posture? Stretching the muscles and tendons that become tight from repetitive movements combined with a strengthening program can prevent or help heal these chronic conditions all of us are susceptible to.

Stretching slows/stops our nerves from firing. Wonder what causes a muscle spasm? Over-firing of our nerves causes the muscle to over- contract. Stretching sends a signal to our nerves to stop firing. This in turn helps our muscles to relax.

Stretching keeps our joints more limber. Each joint has a different degree of movement. This is called " range of motion". For instance, we can bend our knee backward bringing our heel to our butt, and our hip can bend in multiple directions with varying degrees. When we stretch properly, we can maintain an optimal range of movement (otherwise we get stiff, and our function is altered).

Stretching and increased flexibility can help to prevent injuries. When our joints and muscles are limber and flexible with movement through the full range, we have more balance and coordination.

Stretching can help us find muscle imbalances. When I first meet a client I assess their flexibility because I can find the muscle imbalances which we all create in daily life or sport activities. Regular stretching can help us to find and lessen these imbalances which can ultimately lead to injury.

Stretching can be a great stress reliever. We can take a time-out from stress by stretching which is a great way to relax. Easy stretches can even be done in a chair at our desk when the tension mounts. Add in a little deep breathing which increase our oxygen supply to the brain and may we find ourselves feeling and thinking better.

So, need a recap? Stretching more often, can help us to relieve muscle tension, prevent injury and overuse syndromes. It can contribute to balance and coordination and reduce mental stress. We get all this and it feels good too!

Have we stretched today?


© Health News 2004 All Rights Reserved.

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