Let's put our regular health discussions to one side that usually focuses on herbal and nutritional supplements and what foods to eat for a healthy body for just for a moment ...and let's instead focus on why stretching is extremely important for your health too. Because without it, you can end up also developing health problems.
Why do we need to stretch?
Even if you are someone who exercises regularly, building muscle or does aerobic fitness classes, not taking the time to stretch can be detrimental to your health. Or perhaps you don't exercise and think that stretching is only important for people who do exercise as a way to warm up.
But in fact, we all need to stretch and stretching regularly helps us to protect our mobility and independence, according to the Harvard Health Publishing department at Harvard University.
"It (stretching) should be carried out daily," according to David Nolan, who is a physical therapist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
What are the dangers associated with not stretching?
To put it simply, everyone is at risk of joint pain, strains and muscle damage if they do not stretch regularly.
This is because when we stretch the muscles, we help them to be flexible, strong and healthy, which in turn helps us to maintain a range of motion in the joints. If we do not have this range of motion, the muscles here can shorten and become tight. So, what then happens next is you then go to use these muscles for an activity, and they are weak and cannot stretch all the way.
Harvard Health uses a classic example that most of us do regularly - sitting in a chair all day. This activity can cause tight hamstrings at the back of the thigh, which in turn, makes it harder to extend your leg or straighten the knee to its full capacity. Such a simple example can cause walking to be more challenging than it should.
Many people suffer with their back and think the root cause is a spinal issue when often the issue occurs from a lack of stretching, which can cause back pain - ranging from mild to chronic over time.
The Remedy: Design a Simple Daily Stretching Routine
I say 'simple' because if a stretching routine is too complicated, then it will not be motivating enough to do it daily, and with time simple stretching routines can become a daily habit that you can easily remember.
But first, you might want to lean on YouTube videos and find a gentle one that has quite a short and simple routine at first, especially if you are a beginner. Then once you have trained yourself to remember to do this daily, you can mix things up and try something new, even something that is slightly more advanced.
A useful stretching routine you could incorporate into your daily routine, with live examples of each stretch that is suitable for all fitness levels, can be found here: Stretching Routine - Daily Full Body Stretches and More by HealthLine. It includes stretches from ankle and neck rolls to child's pose - a popular yoga pose.
But remember, it is not about advancing to more complex stretching routines quickly; it is about ensuring you simply do a series of stretching exercises daily and that it sticks as a habit.
Here is where the true benefit will be found; you will feel less tension in your body, including your back and will find movement easier.
Are you finding it hard to know where to start with your body's aches and pains? I have 18 years of experience helping people with many different types of body pains. With each patient I see, I also take a very personal approach. If you are interested in learning more about holistically managing your health, then please send an email to me personally.
Harvard Health Publishing, The Importance of Stretching - https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-importance-of-stretching
Health Line, Daily Full Body Stretches and More - https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/stretching-routine#daily-routine