Even the most active people are sitting more than ever these days. COVID-19 is keeping people indoors and there is only so much time you can, or want, to spend on your feet.
All that sitting can have several negative effects on your body. It can boost the risk for heart trouble, increase the likelihood of back pain, and perhaps more subtly, impede overall flexibility and mobility.
One way to combat the effects of increased sitting is by stretching. Stretching can help keep you flexible and mobile while also helping to limit hip, back, neck, and knee pain.
Stretching can look elementary at first and the truth is that it’s fairly simple to learn and execute. But like almost anything else, safety and know-how can improve your results and limit the risk of injury.
Before jumping into a stretching routine, there are some things worth knowing to help limit injuries and increase effectiveness. Here are some tips on safe stretching.
- Warm-up. When muscles are warm, they move more easily, and when they are cold, you risk injury. Taking about five minutes to march in place and swing your arms can warm you up and boost elasticity. A warm shower can also help.
- Know your limits. The goal of stretching is to go for moderate tension. Going past that, to the point of pain, can be detrimental and result in injury. If it hurts, stop, reposition, and start again. As you progress, flexibility will improve and you’ll be able to move further into a stretch.
- Pay attention to details. Like any physical activity, posture and form are key to effective stretching and limiting the risk of injury. When your body is properly positioned, you maximize flexibility and pain relief.
- Keep practicing. Like other forms of activity, the benefits of stretching compound and will only be truly realized, with consistency. Stretching once per day is ideal, but performing your routine at least three times per week should produce results.
Maintaining a stretching routine throughout the COVID-19 crisis will ensure you’re flexible and mobile when all of this is over.