Leading a healthier life doesn’t have to mean difficult diets and strenuous workout regimens. An easy, often overlooked first step to improving your physical health is stretching. Stretching functions as a form of maintenance for your body; it aids with the release of tension in muscles, joints, and tendons. Observing a regular routine ensures your body isn’t overexerting itself or risking injury. In fact, stretching more frequently helps ease the strain of everyday life and the usual toll that activities take on your body.
What Happens If I Don’t Stretch?
Neglecting to stretch certain parts of your body like your back, hamstrings and shoulders can trigger issues like poor posture or aching muscles. Over time, unstretched muscles can hinder mobility and flexibility. Continuing to overwork these muscles causes tightening, shortening of muscles and reduced joint flexibility. Forgetting to stretch increases the risk of joint pain, strains, and muscle damage. Ultimately, neglecting to stretch regularly may result in unnecessary injury to your body.
Where Do I Begin?
With over 600 muscles in the human body, the idea of stretching them regularly is daunting. However, experts recommend focusing on the body’s lower extremities rather than its entirety. Your calves, hamstrings, hip flexors in the pelvis, and quadriceps in the front of the thigh are critical for mobility. Try starting with a stretching routine that targets these essential sections of the body at least three to four times a week.
If you’re still unsure of where to start or have a chronic condition, consult with a trusted professional before starting a new routine. A physical therapist is equipped with all of the tools needed to tell you which stretches are best for your body and how often you should complete them.