Hours at a desk, hours on a plane, and hours in business meetings. Time flies by when you suddenly realize you haven’t stood up in hours. Sitting has been called the new smoking. While that is absolutely true for your cardiovascular health, it’s also true for your muscular system. Let’s take a look at what stretching is, the benefits of stretching as they relate to your career, and how you can start incorporating stretching into your everyday routine.
What is Stretching?
Stretching is the moving and holding of a muscle in order to lengthen and elongate. The two most popular types of stretching are static stretching and dynamic stretching.
Static stretching is when you move a muscle across the body and hold it in place for an extended period of time, usually 30 to 60 seconds.
Dynamic stretching is also known as active stretching. This is when you move in a way that is similar to the exercises you’ll be performing in a workout. For example, if you’ll be doing barbell back squats, dynamic stretching would be very light, non-forceful bodyweight squats.
To see the best results in your health or fitness program, you’ll want to use both types of stretching.
Benefits of Stretching
Improves Flexibility: Despite popular belief, people are not born naturally flexible; rather, flexibility is earned. Having a high level of flexibility can release tight muscles, preventing injury. Flexibility is also associated with a reduction in lower back pain. Being stuck in an office chair or on a plane is a notorious cause of stifled flexibility, pain, and eventual injury. Studies show that stretching on a regular basis on improve your flexibility.
Increases Range of Motion: Having a healthy range of motion in the muscles is very useful in your day-to-day life as much as in the gym. Good range of motion can help to reduce pain and prevent injury. When your muscles become tight from a lack of stretching (such as when you sit all day), this will limit your range of motion. Studies show that consistent stretching can help to improve and maintain a healthy range of motion.
Better Recovery: Stretching can help to improve your recovery by alleviating soreness. Studies show that those who engage in a steady stretching program report lower levels of soreness following tough workouts. In the office, if you’re stuck in a chair all day, stretching can help eliminate the soreness caused by stiff muscles.
Tips for Starting to Stretch
If stretching is new to you, don’t worry. Start out small and be consistent. Here are a few tips to follow.
Shoot for Five: Start with just five minutes a day of stretching. It can be two minutes in the morning and three minutes at night. Eventually increase this time each day.
One in Sixty: Ideally, you’ll take stretching into the office. For every hour you spend sitting, try to stand and stretch for one minute.
Go to a Class: No matter where you are on business, I guarantee you’ll find a yoga or Pilates class. Both of these exercises classes focus on stretching the entire body.