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Good afternoon everyone and welcome back.  In my last newsletter I mentioned how important a well rounded stretching routine is.  Today’s post is going to get a little more in depth by talking about some of the reasons why stretching is so important, I’ll also give you some more tips to help you along in building an affective routine.
The Benefits of a Regular Stretching Routine
Stretching is a major component to a well rounded fitness program.   According to a study at the University of Illinois, stretching helps in the release of dopamine that makes you feel better and have a more positive outlook of the world.  Additionally, a regular stretching routine is important for posture, Injury prevention, better alignment and greater stamina.
Incorporating stretching into your daily regimen is crucial to your health and body function.
Let’s get more insight into how a stretching regimen can help in your overall well-being, then we’ll get into some basic exercises that you can do right at your  desk:
Posture Alignment
With age, muscles become tighter and lose flexibility. Due to the loss of flexibility, movement tends to become slower. When this happens, you become vulnerable to soft tissue injuries. Furthermore, muscle strains can affect lifestyle and day-to-day activities. Contrarily, with a regular stretching regimen, you can experience increased flexibility, balance, and coordination.
If your muscles are tense and stiff, it can cause postural problems. A regular stretching regimen can help correct posture by lengthening tight muscles, which pull different body parts away from their position. When you stretch the muscles of the shoulders, lower back, and chest, it can help keep your spine in better alignment. A better aligned spine is critical to your posture, which is further crucial for relieving pains and aches. When there is reduced pain, your body will feel relieved and you will not have the tendency to slouch or hunch as much.
For postural problems, stretching is a highly recommended part of your workout regimen. It improves blood circulation throughout the body and nutrient flow to the cartilage and muscles. Additionally, regular stretching helps loosen the muscles and tendons. As a result, you are more likely to feel relieved from muscle fatigue.
Better mobility
Stretching helps improve flexibility and range of motion. When you follow an effective stretching regimen, you can experience better physical performance and reduced risk of injury. With improved range of motion, you will need less energy to make the same movements.  Additionally, you will have more flexible joints, which reduce the risk of workout injuries.
Improved energy
If you are having trouble staying awake during a long day of work, then you would benefit from a few good stretches for an energy boost. Stretching will help make your mind and body more alert. When you get tired, your muscles tighten, which makes you feel more lethargic. So it would help to stand up from your chair and do some stretches. This may help revitalize your energy levels.
Improved blood circulation
With a regular stretching regimen, you can benefit from better blood flow to your muscles, which boosts growth of cells. This is ideal for reducing post-workout soreness. It will shorten recovery time. This means you can experience better organ functioning, including low heart rate and consistent blood pressure, so you can enjoy better overall health.
When you take time out for stretching before and post-workout, it gives your muscles adequate time to relax. Relaxing the muscles can help improve blood flow and nutrient supply to the muscles. This will relieve soreness in your muscles post-workout.
For better athletic performance, you should stretch your muscles before and after a workout. Regular stretching can help relax your muscles so they are better available for exercise.
Increase stamina
Since stretching tends to loosen tendons and muscles, this will help relieve muscle fatigue, so you can exercise for longer. If you exercise for longer, you will burn more energy but not feel fatigued if you start your workouts with a stretching regimen.
This will delay the onset of muscle fatigue and ensure proper circulation of oxygen, thus helping increase your endurance.
Below I’ve outlined some exercises you can do right at your desk, try doing these once or twice a day.
Head Tilt Version 1 – Neck Stretch
Place your left hand behind your head and gently pull it at an angle toward your knee.. Stop the movement when you feel a slight stretch in the right side of your neck gently hold it for 30 seconds. Next, relax the muscle for 5 to 10 seconds and repeat 3 times.
Head Tilt Version 2 – Neck Stretch
Place your left hand behind your lower back or grab the chair behind your torso if you’re seated.  Slowly move your right ear to your right shoulder assisting with your right hand, when you feel the stretch  gently hold for 30 seconds.  Next, relax the muscle for 5 to 10 seconds and repeat 3 times.
Seated Back and Neck Stretch

While seated, place both feet on the floor, with a distance between them exceeding shoulder-width. The feet should face straight ahead. Lower your upper body in between your legs. Place your fingers on the ground, toward your back. Maintain the position for 30 seconds.  Next, relax the muscle for 5 to 10 seconds and repeat 3 times.

Seated Torso Rotation – Hip  Back and Neck Stretch
Sit in a chair with good posture and your feet flat on the floor. Twist from side to side, holding for four counts and trying to touch the back of the chair with your hand. Return smoothly to center and repeat on the other side.  Repeat this 10 times.
Seated Glute and Hip Stretch
While sitting in a chair, cross your right leg on top of your left as shown. Next, gently lean forward until a stretch is felt along the crossed leg, lean forward while pressing the crossed leg away from your body to increase the intensity of the stretch. Next, relax the muscle for 5 to 10 seconds and repeat 3 times.
The Bottom Line: Find The Balance
You’re only as strong as your weakest link so if flexibility is an issue you wont be able to perform as well in other aspects of your life.  Building a sustainable long term wellness plan is about balance; physically and psychologically, a regular stretching regimen can help bring you closer to that balance.
Try some of the exercises above, see how you feel, and keep your eyes peeled for my next topic.
See you next time,
Stephen

At MedWellFitness, we are your functional training specialists and can help improve your fitness at every level regardless of your current situation.