Do you find it’s harder to move around and do the things you used to, or even simple daily tasks like getting out bed or walk to the kitchen? If you do, you may need to start stretching.
Tight muscles can lead to a stiff neck, back pain, or sore knees, and massively decrease mobility and quality of life. The truth is that when it’s easier to move, it’s easier to get out and do things that make you feel good.
To loosen up and improve mobility, stretch. Stiff muscles become limber when they are stretched out, have their range increased, and are used regularly.
Stretching, however, should be done with care. Applying added tension to a cold muscle, using poor posture, or going beyond your limits can all lead to pain and potential injury. So, when you’re about to get in that stretch, here are a few tips to remember:
Warm-up: Muscles stretch more quickly when they are warm. You can perform “dynamic stretches” (stretches with movement) and kill two birds with one stone, or spend a few minutes standing marching in place, dancing, or swinging your arms before “static” stretching (holding a position).
Listen to your body: The tension created through stretching should be mildly uncomfortable, but not painful. If it hurts, stop, reposition, and try the move again. Over time your flexibility will improve.
Make a mind/muscle connection: Focus on feeling the stretch in the muscle you are targeting. That way, you’ll know you’re doing the movement properly. Also, you’ll probably notice that one side may have better mobility than the other. Focus your efforts to correct this imbalance over time.
Lastly, you’ll want to remember to breathe regularly and make stretching a regular part of your day. The more often you practice, the better you will become and the easier it will be to move around. In time, pain and immobility may be a thing of the past.
Mohan Garikiparithi holds a degree in medicine from Osmania University (University of Health Sciences). He practiced clinical medicine for over a decade. During a three-year communications program in Germany, he developed an interest in German medicine (homeopathy) and other alternative systems of medicine. This article was originally published on Bel Marra Health.