Injuries can arise from not stretching before performing activities, including those that are part of a daily routine. For example, think of a rubber band. Trying to bend, elongate, or twist a rubber band, is not a difficult task at room temperature. However, if you take a hard, frozen rubber band and try to perform the same action, it will break when moderate force is applied.
Our muscles are like many rubber bands held together within long tubes of insulation that provide further support and resistance to breakage. When we do not move or use our muscles and tendons, just like a frozen rubber band, they lose the ability to expand properly and can be damaged if not warmed up beforehand. Stretching allows your body to understand the limits of how far you can go without injuring yourself.
How can you improve flexibility through stretching?
There are hundreds, if not thousands of different ways to stretch different muscles in our body.
Did you know that we have 650 different muscles?! Of course we cannot stretch all of these muscles each and every day, but we can incorporate other aspects to improve flexibility of our muscles by methods such as: deep breathing, drinking adequate water, relieving stress, eating healthy, positive thinking, sleeping properly, exercising, and seeing enough sunlight.
If you, like most people, spend the majority of your day sitting in a chair and in front of a computer; you could benefit greatly from the following stretching exercises!
Simple stretches to incorporate at work:
1. Stretching your shoulder:
Place your arms on the corner of a doorway and move your body forward slowly. You should feel a stretch where your arm connects to your upper torso/shoulder region. Hold for 5-7 seconds and relax. Repeat for 7 times and do the other shoulder.
2. Roll your shoulders back:
With your arms by your side, shrug your shoulders up towards your ears, roll your shoulders backwards in a clockwise direction for the right shoulder and counterclockwise for the left shoulder and relax. Repeat this throughout the day whenever you can remember to do it
3. Stretch the muscles in the front of your neck:
Interlock your fingers and place them behind your head. Next, push your head into your hands for a few seconds, and relax. Repeat 5 times. Try to do this throughout the day. In addition, you can try to do this once in the morning and evening. Do not tilt your head up or down: it should be neutral and level.
4. Get on your feet – stretch your legs:
Stand up and move around every hour for a few minutes. You can stretch your quadriceps muscle by holding your right ankle behind your right leg with your right hand. Hold for about 7 seconds, rest for a few seconds, and do this 5 times. Repeat for the left side.
5. Ankle stretches and mobility:
Try to draw the alphabet with your foot while you’re sitting. By moving your ankles in this way, you’ll actually strengthen and stretch various muscles around your ankle.
What to not do when stretching…
Never over stretch or stretch too quickly without warming up first. Although rare, you can injure your body if you overstretch too quickly and forcefully. Start out in small increments and allow your body to relax and ease the muscles to stretch. In addition, don’t forget to breathe while stretching! After each exhale, stretch just a little further and further.
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3700 Thomas Road, Suite 207
Santa Clara, CA 95054