Stretching/or mobilising your body is important for everybody.
If you repeatedly undertake impact exercise, resistance exercise training, sit at a computer for most of the day or travel long distances without stretching your muscles (and soft tissues)will lose length.
When you go to move the muscles into a position they are not used to doing they send signals to your brain saying they are too tight and sometimes they can even send signals saying they are too painful to move into that position. Your body is now in a vicious cycle. Your joints are sore to move to their end of range, so you don’t move them there, the joint range shortens more, you feel more tight, you try to stretch, it feels difficult and painful, you think, maybe this isn’t a good idea.
Another side effect of your muscles shortening is that once your muscles are no longer long enough for your joint to move through a full range of motion you are then unable to keep that section of the joint healthy.Most joints are kept healthy and well lubricated by joint movement. Here’s the science bit- Joint movement acts as a stimulate to the special capsule around your joint to produce lubrication. The more the joint moves the more fluid the joint capsule produces.
Once parts of the joint are ‘never’ used (due to shortened muscle length or a sedentary lifestyle) those parts don’t get lubricated as much and the joint becomes stiffer and the joint range becomes smaller. In the worst case this can lead to the start of joint degeneration, joint capsule tightening and lose of function.
Simply stretching twice a week will keep all these negative things from building up and becoming a problem for you. Even adding in a few easy standing spinal roll downs will start you off on feeling better. Why don’t you try it and see how you feel. Try doing three to four in a row every morning before going to work. and see if you start to feel the difference just by adding in one mobility exercise to your day. Stand tall with your feet hip distance apart. You should feel each part of your foot planted into the ground, from your toes to your heel. Starting from your head your aim is to curl your spine one vertebrae at a time all the way down to your pelvis. Think about taking nice long slow breaths as you roll down, when you return to standing try to reverse the curl- so you are slowly stacking one vertebrae on top of another starting from the pelvis and the lower back all the way up to your head. The more you curl the better the stretch and mobility for your spine.
If you already feel uncomfortable about moving your body and find when you do try to stretch that it is painful then try moving into the stretches a little more gently, or if you are still unsure of what to do, book an appointment with a Physiotherapist. They will be happy to help you work out a mobility programme that will suit you and help you achieve your goals.
Mobilising/stretching your body is the thing that will keep you mobile for longer, allow you to be able to keep fit and healthy for longer and can help to prevent sporting injuries.