How to Stay Amazing by Stretching!

Since the pandemic, many of us are sitting at our desks, being more sedentary and possibly cramped up in close quarters due to transforming various parts of our houses into home offices.  With this comes stiffness, joint pain, and physical and mental exhaustion from the endless Zoom calls and virtual meetings.  I’ve noticed more lower back pain due to increased telemedicine visits and less in-person office visits.  I wasn’t moving as much as I used to and my lower back started aching.

Recently, I read an intriguing article about stretching.  As we age, our muscles become shorter and less elastic and joint pain occurs more commonly.  Although I've still continued with my hiking and tennis drills, I’ve been negligent about the stretching component of my exercise routine since stopping my yoga class and realized that this may very well be contributing to my lower back pain.

What are some of the benefits of stretching?

  • Increased flexibility
  • Improved range of motion
  • Improved posture
  • Reduced back pain
  • Increased flexibility leading to less injuries

Many of us may not appreciate these benefits or give stretching the credit it deserves.  According to Natasha Nikolaeva, co-creator of StretchIt, flexibility work-outs can work up as much sweat as a high intensity work-out, stating “They’re not “losing” anything by missing a workout; they’re actually  gaining. .. I sweat when I stretch.”

Believe me, I do too.  Recently, I went onto the StretchIt site and signed up for one of their online stretching regimens.  I absolutely worked up a sweat!  I also noticed less pain in my lower back and my breathing becoming easier – filling my lungs with more oxygen as I improved my posture.

Wow, now I was on a roll and was excited to find out more about stretching.  Brad Walker, an athlete, coach, and stretching expert, recommends stretching for 15-20 minutes before bedtime if you can’t fit stretching into your day, offering free stretching tips on his website, stretchcoach.com.

Researchers have also found that stretching can reduce your stress level.  What an incredible tool for us to use during these stressful times!  By improving our posture, stretching allows for deeper, less shallow breaths, which activates our parasympathetic nervous system reducing cortisol levels and creating a sense of peace and calm. 

Who knew stretching could be so important for our physical and mental health?  I hope this motivates you to integrate a stretching routine into your exercise workouts and share any personal tips you might find along the way.

In health and happiness,

Dr. Diana