What happens to your body if you don't stretch daily
The role of stretching
Stretching Exercises play an important role in maintaining a balanced structural body system. Repeated movements, physical labor, sport, office jobs encouraging bad posture can all have a debilitating effect on the physical well-being of the body. Incorporating daily stretching exercises to balance out the overused muscles can prevent bad posture, reduce painful trigger points and postpone the onset of arthritic conditions later on in life.
Reduce pressure around joints
One of the major benefits of stretching is the fact that overused muscles are relengthened. This reduces tension on joints as the body becomes more balanced again. As stretching reduces tension around joints, it automatically increases flexibility and range of motion. Once the muscles reach their normal intended length, pressure around joints is automatically reduced and those joints can move freely again. This can play a major role in preventing the onset of arthritic conditions.
Reduce painful trigger points
Another important aspect of stretching is the fact that it increases circulation. As the muscle is stretched it experiences pressure and blood flow is limited. Once the hold is released, blood flow is increased and will travel through the tissue at a higher speed. This also helps in removing accumulated waste often found in trigger points.
Stretching Exercises are very beneficial at improving out posture. A bad posture can have a debilitating effect on the body if we just leave it alone and don't do anything to counteract it. Daily posture awareness and stretching exercises are a necessity. Even after a strenous hike in the mountains, it would be beneficial to stretch the muscles that were most affected by it. Avoiding this could eventually even cause a pinched nerve.
The body is divided into four sections: the front, the back, the left side and the ride side. If your body seems to lean forward a bit, then you need to focus on stretching your chest and stomach. If you do side bends and you notice that one side doesn't go as far as the other, then you should focus on stretching that side just a bit more and longer (at least 60 seconds).
How muscles are affected by movement
Every movement or contraction tones our muscles. When muscles become toned they automatically shorten. The body then has to compensate by adjusting its posture. This can cause all kinds of issues, like neck and shoulder pain, lower back pain, digestive problems, etc. Participating in stretching exercises to counteract short muscles will promote a healthy posture, healthy breathing pattern and a healthy psyche. How does one know which stretching exercises to do? That isn't always that simple. Here are some simple guidelines:
If you sit in front of the computer a lot and have neck and shoulder complaints, then you need to stretch your chest muscles and biceps, your side-neck muscles and the front neck muscles that attach at the collar bone reaching up to behind your ear. This can be easily done by following the stretch on the picture above. The stretch should be held for at least 60 seconds.
If you are sitting a lot and complain of lower back pain, you need to stretch your hamstring muscles. This can be done by sitting on the floor with your legs pointing forward reaching your toes with your fingers. Or you may do the same by standing up and then slowly bending over trying to reach the floor with your hands. Don't overbend your knees though as the stretch won't be effective.
Depending on the sport we practice or the type of work we perform, different muscles might become affected. It is important o learn more about your own body. What muscles do you use the most? A professional massage therapist or physical therapist can offer you some assistance in finding the best stretches for you. Another option is to purchase a high-quality stretching book that will teach you the most effective stretches.
Learn how to stretch effectively
Watch your anatomical balance
Unfortunately, we don't always find time to do stretches or we simply don't add them into our daily must-do routines. As time passes our body has to compensate and our anatomical balance has to suffer. Sometimes months or years go by until we notice a difference or start to develop pain or difficulty with certain movements. There is a simple exercise that encourages you to take a good look at your body and its movements.
Undress down to your underwear. Stand in front of the mirror and observe your body from the top to the bottom, starting with your head, moving down to the shoulders, hips, knees and feet. What do you notice? Is one shoulder higher up than the other? Are your knees slightly turned in? Are you feet parallel or are they pointed in or maybe out? Stand to the side. Is your head tilted foward? Are your shoulders tilted forward? Do you have an lower arched back? Is your belly sticking out? Maybe you can ask somebody to take some pictures so you can take a closer look at your postural inbalances.
While daily stretching exercises can revert some of the bad posture sometimes a professional Rolfer is needed to help you regain anatomical balance. Learn more about Rolfing.