The COVID-19 pandemic has led many of us to alter our usual routines. With such dramatic changes, including access and comfort with going to the gym or fitness centers, we are all more open to negative mental and physical health problems. In addition to regular aerobic physical activity and strength training exercises, stretching is an important part of a fitness routine because it can help with flexibility and range of motion. A well-stretched muscle more easily achieves its full range of motion. This improves athletic performance and functional abilities, such as reaching, bending, or stooping during daily tasks. Stretching can also be a great way to get you moving in the morning or a way to relax after a long day. Activities such as yoga combine stretching and relaxation and improve balance, a wonderful combination. Activities that lengthen and stretch muscles can help you prevent injuries, back pain, and balance problems.
Regular stretching should be incorporated into your daily exercise routine to improve your flexibility, enhance muscle performance, better circulation, reduce the chance of muscular injuries, help prevent muscular stiffness and soreness, help reduce tension and to encourage relaxation and to help you develop better awareness of your body.
You should stretch after you warm-up but before you begin your physical activity, primarily to loosen muscles and after your physical activity, primarily to increase flexibility and improve your range of motion. Stretch in a slow relaxed manner until you feel a slight discomfort in the muscle. Hold each stretch for at least 20 seconds. Repeat each stretch one or more times. Don’t bounce and never stretch to the point of feeling pain and just breathe normally. Concentrate on the muscles you are going to use or have used during your activity and emphasize any area that is particularly tight.
Flexibility is an aspect of health that many people neglect. However, flexibility is important because tight muscles can create problems throughout your body. To improve your flexibility, incorporate stretching daily. It is possible to adjust your routine to stretching at least twice a week after you have gained more flexibility.
Taking steps to become more flexible can be an amazing way to connect yourself and your body. You’re likely to feel more balanced and more improved overall once your body is more open, strong, and flexible.
The Live COVID SMART blog series was developed to promote resilience in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Contributing authors: Lori Wiggins, Kim Griffin, Beth Kerr, Marcia Brown, Heidi Radunovich, John Diaz, and LaToya J. O’Neal. This work is supported by the Rural Health and Safety Education Program [grant no. 2021-46100-35459].
References: Haley, J. The Importance of Flexibility and Mobility. Retrieved October 28, 2021, from https://sites.psu.edu/kinescfw/health-education/exercise-articles/the-importance-of-flexibility-and-mobility/ Sexon, P. (2006). The Importance of Flexibility for Functional Range of Motion. Retrieved October 28, 2021, from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/288633539_The_Importance_of_Flexibility_for_Functional_Range_of_Motion