Taking Control of Your Health: 10 Benefits to Starting a Daily Stretching Routine

“Stretching is an excellent thing you can do for your health” – Harvard Medical School

Many of us often have tight muscles and/or suffer from various physical aches and pains, which is normal since over 85% of Americans suffer from some sort of physical ailment during their lifetime. 

But what can we as individuals do about it? There are certainly physicians, surgeons, physical therapists, and other healthcare providers to help – but ultimately the responsibility of our own health and wellbeing falls on us.

So what are some ways that we can take control of our own care?  Sticking to a daily stretching routine is a great place to start!

Consistent stretching has a myriad of benefits from helping you feel better physically, increasing mobility, reducing pain, and preventing injuries.  According to Harvard Health, stretching is important for all ages, but it is especially important as you age since joints can become less flexible over time making it harder to do everyday movements and tasks.

Take a look at the top 10 benefits of starting a daily stretching routine:

1. Improves Posture. Stretching the lower back, hamstrings, chest, and shoulders can help keep the spine in better alignment, making it easier to have good posture. Good posture can also help reduce neck and back pain.

2. Reduces Pain and Soreness. Stretching relaxes your muscles, helping to reduce pain caused from muscle spasms and tightness.  Stretching alongside workouts also helps muscles to relax and restore through increased blood flow and resulting nutrient supply.

3. Decreases Injury Risk. Flexible muscles are less prone to injury.

4. Improves Athletic Performance. Regular stretching helps muscles relax and enables muscles to work most effectively during exercise.

5. Improves Range of Motion. Increased flexibility in your muscles helps improve range of motion in your joints making daily tasks easier and less tiring.

6. Speeds up Recovery. Stretching helps speed up the recovery process after exercise, and it also helps lower your heart rate after a workout, which is critical for an effective cool down.

7. Relieves Stess. Stretching can help jumpstart the mind and body by allowing tight muscles to relax and increasing overall blood flow. Stretching also releases endorphins and can help you sleep better, all proven to be beneficial for relieving stress.

8. Improves Energy Levels. Muscles tighten when you are tired, making you feel lethargic. Some quick stretches can help you re-energize.

9. Improves Coordination and Balance. Improving and maintaining full range of motion can help improve coordination and balance, keeping you more mobile and less prone to injury.

10. Improves Circulation. Stretching increases blood flow which increases nutrient supply and gets rid of waste byproducts. Proper circulation helps your body function properly.

Though occasional stretching is good, it isn’t going to give you the most benefits.

“a daily regimen will deliver the greatest gains… as with all types of exercise, you need to engage in stretching regularly in order to reap lasting benefits.” –  Harvard Health

The key to a great routine, is consistency.

“[not doing] regular stretching means you risk losing the potential benefits. For instance, if stretching helped you increase your range of motion, your range of motion may decrease again if you stop stretching.”  – Mayo clinic

So remember, start stretching today and keep stretching often for a healthier, happier you!

Make sure to consult your physician or physical therapist before starting a new stretching routine.  Always make sure to stretch safely and be sure to use proper technique.  Stretching incorrectly can actually do more harm than good.  If you are looking for a place to start, a physical therapist can show you the best types of stretches given your unique conditions and goals.

 Are you someone who could benefit from a little extra motivation to stick to your daily exercise or stretching routine? Let us help you remember, and help you start feeling better fast! Sign up via facebook messenger here or for our SMS text service here.

 

 

 

Why Consistency is Key for Success in Home Exercise Programs.

Lauren Menino, MS, OTR/L, an Occupational Therapist at NYU Langone Health, joins us today to talk more about why consistency is key for successful home exercise programs.

Why Consistency is Key.

Though dosage and duration will vary for each individual and injury, research into many different therapeutic interventions demonstrates that consistency is a primary factor impacting client outcomes.

Each component of a home exercise program is selected by your therapist to focus on a specific muscle group or movement pattern. Form and alignment are essential for clients to understand to target the appropriate body segments and prevent injury. Research on learning theory confirms that learning via repeated practice leads to improved recall and carryover.

As the saying goes, practice makes perfect.

You, and your body, can more easily repeat something the right way when you have done it over and over. And, when you don’t have to think about the basics of each exercise, you have a chance to focus on specifics such as positioning, stabilizing other muscles, and breathing, to get the most out of your program.

My top five tips for remembering to do your exercises:

1. Figure out what works for you. Does it help to complete your program the morning to alleviate pain throughout the day? Can you make it part of stretch or cool down during a workout? Do you do it during commercials while watching TV? Can it fit as part of your routine when you wake up or before bed?

2. Build it into your schedule. Make your program work for your day so it becomes a habit rather than a burden. Set a goal and keep track of how consistently you follow your program so you can acknowledge progress.

3. Ask your therapist for specifics. Time and frequency, what are the “must do’s” for days when your schedule or your body challenge you.

4. Set a reminder or sign up for a daily reminder service. Visual, auditory or multi-sensory- something to catch your attention. The hardest part is showing up, so have what you need organized that way when you’re ready to start you don’t first have to go running for equipment.

5. Find your motivation. Remind yourself the value of what you are working towards. In the end, your doctor, therapist, etc. are your guides, but you are the primary driver in your recovery.

Lauren Menino, MS, OTR/L, Occupational Therapist at NYU Langone Health

References: 

Bayona, N. A., Bitensky, J., Salter, K. & Teasell, R. (2005). The role of task-specific training in rehabilitation therapies. Topics in stroke rehabilitation, 12 (3).

Brewer, B. W., Cornelius, A. E., Van Raalte, J. L., Tennen, H., & Armeli, S. (2013). Predictors of adherence to home rehabilitation exercises following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction. Rehabilitation Psychology, 58(1).

Chen, C. Y., Neufeld, P. S., Feely, C. A., & Skinner, C. S. (1999). Factors influencing compliance with home exercise programs among patients with upper-extremity impairment. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 53.

Helfrich, C. (2014). Principles of Learning and Behavioral Change. In Willard & Spackman’s Occupational Therapy. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Palazzo, C., Klinger, E., Dorner, V., Abdelmajid, K., Theirry, O., Boumenir, Y., Martin, W., Poiraudeal, S., & Ville, I. (2016). Barriers to home-based exercise program adherence with chronic low back pain: Patient expectations regarding new technologies. Annals of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine 59

Are you someone who has exercises and/or stretches you are supposed to be doing everyday, but always seem to forget? Let us help you remember, and help you start feeling better fast! Sign up via facebook messenger here or for our SMS text service here.

Wishing you a fast recovery!

The Tiyaga Health Team