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Why Stretching Makes All of the Difference

By Sandy Schroeder

Most of us are in a hurry as we plunge ahead with work and run through our workouts, but there are some things we cannot afford to skip. Stretching is one of those critical practices that makes everything else work. Stretching can ensure ease of motion and protect the body from pain or injury. Whatever your favorite routines are, stretching will maximize the results and help you keep your body strong and limber.

 Here are some of the things that stretching can do for you, according to Harvard Health.

  • Stretching relieves tightness to help sore knees, stiff necks or aching backs, smoothing the way forward
  • Stretching helps us handle all of the sitting that we do every day, breaking up the time and loosening up the muscles
  • Stretching boosts our performance on the courts or the green helping you power ahead
  • Stretching keeps us young as we move toward retirement staying quick and agile
  • Stretching extends range of motion as we reach, bend and move through the day
  • Stretching lowers the risk of joint and muscle strain keeping everything fluid

How to Make Stretching Work for You

Check in with your doctor before you begin new routines and then make stretching an integral part of your exercises.

Do flexibility exercises or yoga and tai chi sessions for the shoulders, chest, trunk, neck, hips, legs, ankles and lower back at least 2-3 times a week. Make the stretching an automatic part of your routines.

Spend 60 seconds on each stretch, in 15 or 20 second holds. Break them into comfortable intervals.

Follow These Safety Tips

Pay attention to your body and stay safe.

Stop if there is pain - Stretch to the point of mild tension, never to the point of pain. Stop if a stretch hurts. Try again later.

Always warm up - Do a simple warm up like marching in place swinging your arms, or dancing to your favorite tunes.

Heat works too - Use warm showers or heat packs to loosen muscles, allowing them to perform better.

Pay attention to your whole body - One side of the body may be tighter than the other. Work to gradually balance the sides.

Watch your posture - Monitor your form as you stand, sit and move to maximize flexibility and gain strength. Have someone take pictures of you at your desk, in the gym, or out walking.

Breathe as you move - Get comfortable with your breathing while you stretch. Never hold your breath while completing a pose. That can cause your blood pressure to spike. Instead match your breath to your movement.

Stretch often - Stretch every day or at least 2-3 times a week to protect your body, extend your range of motion, and improve your flexibility and strength.

Never forget to stretch and enjoy the difference.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Wellington, Fla.

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