If we told you stretching is an important part of overall health, you’d probably look at us and say, well duh.
It’s obvious that stretching has many physical and mental benefits, plus it takes almost no time to do, but do you?
Most people find the time to work with their personal trainer, fit in their strength training and cardio, but few take a moment to stretch.
The excuses for not exercising run the gamut , but the most common ones we hear are: lack of time and lack of knowledge. Between work, family, friends, pets and myriads of other responsibilities, most people don’t have the time to sift through the dos and don’ts of stretching on the internet.
So we’re going to make it easy. Here are our 4 favourite stretches based on how you spend your working hours. You can do one or all, but there’s no guess work involved.
The Stretch for those who work on their feet
Be you a doctor, nurse, teacher, retail employee, baker, waiter, chef, construction worker, this one is for you. When you’re on your feet all day it’s not uncommon to feel lower, or even upper back pain, so use this one throughout the day or when you kick your shoes off at home.
Lower back/Lat Stretch
Notes: Be gentle. This kind of stretch has the potential to cause subluxation (partial dislocation) of the ribs. Go slow and avoid holding for longer than 6 seconds.
The Stretch for those who work at a computer all day
This one is for our office workers, programmers, accountants, architects, artists, writers, even drivers (though they aren’t at a computer their posture while working is very similar). Sitting at a computer for 8 hours a day can cause postural issues like rounding of the upper back due, in part, to tightening of the chest muscles. So let’s take some time to open that up.
Note: Play with this stretch. Again, go slowly and be gentle, but rotate your torso in different directions to find areas of tightness. Hold until you feel the stretch lessening and repeat if necessary.
The Stretch for people who work carrying weight on one side of their body
This one might seem strange, but we’re looking at you stay-at-home parents with small children, daycare/pre-school teachers, postal workers, waste removal personnel, landscapers, students who still wear their backpack over one shoulder. It’s not uncommon to see the discrepancies in posture when you spent most of the day with a baby on your hip. These imbalances often lead to pain in the long run. So let’s even things out.
Oblique/IT Band/Lat Stretch
Note: think about pushing your outer hip as far away from the support wall as possible. Breathe deeply and hold until you feel the stretch dissipate. Don’t forget to move around some. Find those areas of tightness that are hiding. It’s a seek and destroy mission.
The Stretch for people who work with their heads down
Yep, we’re talking to you students, tattoo artists, scholars, dentists, dental hygienists, surgeons, cosmetologists, masseurs. At the end of the day, there’s no way your neck isn’t killing you. Most peoples’ heads weigh around 10lbs, give or take. It’s the size of a small bowling ball. When our heads aren’t aligned or being supported by our necks, things get uncomfortable.
Notes: For a deeper stretch, sit on one hand (or grab below your seat) and turn your head in the opposite direction. The neck is very delicate so take your time and listen to what the muscles are telling you. Gently back off if things are too much. Repeat as necessary.
Stretching feels so good when we make the time for it and take our time working through it. Some general rules of thumb for stretching though:
- Go slow
- Play with it – find those tight spots
- Back off once the stretch starts to dissipate and move back into it more deeply, if you desire **Also back off if the stretch feels too intense**
- Consistency and frequency are key
- You will only ever regret the stretch you didn’t do
For more information about self-stretching or assisted stretching practices, don’t hesitate to reach out!