Why the emphasis on stretching? It is critical to maintain balance and to move without appearing to be older than your chronological age. It also reduces the risk of injury. Anyone who has ever started a workout program after being sedentary for a long period of time can truly appreciate the benefit of stretching to release the tight feeling in the muscles. You also want to maintain a good range of motion throughout your life to accommodate activities of daily living.
According to research presented by (Mostoufi, 2019), even simple activities we perform on a daily basis require range of motion, such as shaving or hand washing. When turning to see if we can safely back our car out of a parking space or to move the automobile in a backwards motion, the range of motion required to do this is significant (Mostoufi, 2019). The cameras now available do help, but they are simply a tool to give us assistance and should not be the only tool we use when backing up an automobile.
Two terms commonly used in fitness or rehabilitation of muscles and joints are passive and active range of motion. A physical therapist typically uses passive range of motion when stretching the muscles of a client (Lindberg, 2019). Active range of motion is when an individual moves a joint without assistance from another person (Lindberg, 2019). Typically, most individuals notice diminished range of motion after the onset of an injury. When our backs feel tight, we could actually need to stretch not only the back, but potentially our hamstrings as well (Lindberg, 2019).
Individuals who practice yoga have the benefit of including multiple stretches within the yoga routine and the stretches are performed at a slow pace, allowing a more full range of motion through the stretch. The image above shows a great stretch to loosen the lower back, shoulders and neck areas and to increase range of motion through the upper body.
The total body stretch above is a great stretch to release multiple areas of the tightness in the body and as you gain greater flexibility and range of motion, you may notice over time it will become easier to go deeper into the stretch. Yoga is a great way to incorporate stretching and range of motion activity into your routine to provide a well-rounded selection of exercise activity. Remember, you are not simply trying to strengthen or improve one area of your body, but rather, you want to improve tone, flexibility, and strength in addition to the healthy eating plan and hydration.
Do not despair; you can improve on range of motion and flexibility even if you have not stretched for a long period of time. Just remember, as with any type of physical activity, to start slow and do not overextend your body or your joints if you have been sedentary for a long period of time. Time heals all wounds takes on a whole new meaning in this context because the wounds are more internal and are usually microscopic tears within the muscle tissue creating the sore or stiff feelings. Ladies, we also want to remember that our bodies, as we age, tend to remind us of how inactive we may have become without even realizing, so be gentle and slowly get back to a better range of motion and well-being.
Lindberg, S. (2019, June 28). What Is Passive Range of Motion? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/passive-range-of-motion
Mostoufi, S. A. (2019, April 17). Cervical Radiculopathy. ScienceDirect. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780323549479000055