Static stretching seems like the “easy” part of exercise. You just lay in the floor or sit in a chair and move your muscles until they feel slight tension and then hold. Health benefits can be found by stretching a muscle for just 20 seconds every day. These benefits include increased flexibility, increased blood flow to muscles, and can prevent certain injuries. However, most of us don’t stretch on a daily basis. Why?
We all hear how we need cardio in our workout to strengthen our heart and weight training exercises to build muscle. But we forget about an important, and sometimes simple, aspect of exercise. Stretching can help improve your daily life by making your body feel more relaxed and your mind less stressed. A study at the University of Illinois found that when elderly people followed a stretching program they experienced a boost in their self-esteem. “Stretching releases dopamine which helps you feel happier and more positive about the world,” says Dr. Simon Floreani, chiropractor and Ambassador for Allied Health and Prevention.
Stretching as often as possible will provide the most health benefits. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests that at least 3 times a week of stretching will correlate to improved range of motion. Stretching is most effective in gaining increases in range of motion after a regular workout when your muscles are “warm” and have been used. This can also be an important exercise after sitting for long periods at an office, for the elderly population, and even children. An individual’s activities will correlate which area of the body needs the most stretching. Keeping simple stretches in mind can help you stay in optimal health and overall wellness. Here are some basic stretches you can perform in less than 5 minutes.
5 Stretches that will take you less than 5 minutes
1. Arms Above Your Head- Stretch your arms up over your head and clasp hands. Hold for 20 seconds while breathing deeply.
2. Side Bend- While sitting in a chair stretch your arms up over your head and bend to the side, holding the stretch for 20 seconds on each side.
3. Seated Twist- While sitting in a chair with both feet flat on the ground rotate your body to one side while holding the back of the chair. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds on each side.
4. Chest Stretch- While sitting in a chair with both feet flat on the ground reach back and hold the sides of the chair while pushing your chest forward. Hold for 20 seconds while breathing deeply.
5. Lower Body Stretch- While sitting in a chair extend one leg out and bend forward stretching your hands straight out in front of you. Hold for 20 seconds on each leg.
Tunwattanapong, P., Kongkasuwan, R., & Kuptniratsaikul, V. (2016). The effectiveness of a neck and shoulder stretching exercise program among office workers with neck pain: a randomized controlled trial. Clinical Rehabilitation, 30(1), 64-72. doi:10.1177/0269215515575747