As you know, stretching is a natural action. When you wake up in the morning a good stretch just feels right. Have you ever watched your cat or dog when they wake up? Before they go anywhere, they do some yoga, up-dog, down-dog, cat-cow….it's true. Where do you think the names of the yoga poses came from?
The benefits of daily exercise are always being touted, but a daily stretching routine can be just as important. Adding stretching to your daily routine is just as important as doing your workout.
Improved flexibility and range of motion are the obvious benefits of stretching. As we age our muscles can become tighter and the range of motion in our joints can lessen. This lack of flexibility can cause movement to become less fluid and slower. This would make you more susceptible to muscle strains or other injury. Increasing your flexibility will also improve your balance and coordination.
Travel nurses and healthcare professionals lead hectic and stressful lives. This can lead to chronically tense and tight muscles and can also contribute to poor posture which can cause long term problems. Staying healthy and fit during travel assignments is an important part of the active and busy lifestyle of a healthcare traveler.
Tight muscles can pull parts of your body away from their intended positions. Stretching can help alleviate this problem by lengthening the muscles. Lower back, chest and shoulder stretches can help keep your spine aligned properly and improve your posture.
Stress of course is a major culprit in most of our lives as well. Stress causes your muscles to contract and become tense. This tension can have a negative impact on almost every part of your body. If you spend just 10-15 minutes stretching each day it can provide a mental break, help calm the mind and give your body a chance to recharge.
The best part about stretching is that you can do it any time, anywhere. Here are some basics to remember so you can stay safe while stretching:
Don't aim for pain
Focus on major muscle groups
Hold the stretch and breathe into it.
Bring movement into your stretching.
Go slow and listen to your body. As one of my yoga instructors says, "Stretch, then wait and listen to your body, wait for your body to let you in, then wiggle a little deeper and wait and enjoy the sensation of stretch." I practice yoga daily and it incorporates a lot of stretching. I personally have been doing this for over twenty years and it keeps me fit and feeling good! So let's get stretching!
Mary Crawford, HealthCare Employment Network