- Describe 3 of the health benefits of stretching.
Stretching improves body posture. It is possible for the body to have adapted to habits of poor or incorrect postures over the years. Poor exercise can also lead to muscular imbalances and incorrect postural alignment (Wong & Chia, 2012). Stretching exercises performed on a regular basis will also bring about increased muscular endurance and muscular strength (Wong & Chia, 2012). Eventually, stretching improves muscular balance and makes it easier for an individual to maintain proper posture and control over body movements. Among seniors, stretching helps lower the risks of falling and improves the ability of seniors to do activities they would have asked assistance for (Hister, 2013).
Adequate stretching exercises bring about increased tissue temperature and improved blood circulation and nutrient delivery through the blood which is important for relieving muscle stiffness. For athletes, immediately after strenuous exercise or training, delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) can occur and may even be felt up to 48 hours after training (Wong & Chia, 2012). Slow, static stretching performed after exercise, and repeated stretching two or three times a day can reduce or prevent delayed muscle soreness, alleviate the severity and duration of DOMS, and enhance recovery from exercise (Wong & Chia, 2012). An injury can cause tightening and stiffness of the muscles and tendons, and restricted movement around that joint. Gentle static stretching exercises, if done under proper supervision, can also aid faster recovery of the injury.
Stretching brings about better relaxation. Prolonged muscular tension tightens or shortens the muscles, making them less supple over time. Stretching exercises that from part of the cool down routine help to prevent the muscles from tightening up and enhance muscular relaxation. Stretching when conducted in the proper environment also encourages personal enjoyment and mental relaxation, which cam lead to a reduction of stress levels. Individuals can learn to take their minds off work-related or other distracting issues while spending time stretching either by themselves or with others.
- Describe 3 ways to prevent back and neck issues.
All the structures in our backs and necks (bones, discs, ligaments, nerves, and muscles) function best when they are upright or well lined up (Morrone, 2008). Good posture is all about regaining and maintaining a sound, stable, unimpaired position. A properly aligned upright position help prevents back and neck pains. That does not mean that one cannot slump, but it is advisable that people spend most of their time aligned.
The flexibility exercise helps overcome neck and back pain by lengthening and relaxing tight muscles. Calf stretches help reduce back pain by decreasing shearing force from back ward bending in the lumbar spine (Morrone, 2008) Other stretches that help reduce back pain are: the hamstring stretch, lats stretch, piriformis stretch and hip stretch (Morrone, 2008). Neck stretches also help prevent neck aches by restoring flexibility around the neck.
Proper Sitting Position
Most of our time is spent sitting and the way in which we sit has created pain for us. It is helpful to have ones feet supported on the floor while sitting because sitting with ones feet unsupported increases the pressure inside your discs by 90% (Morrone, 2008). Whenever possible, one should have the base of their chair slope downwards. This elevates your hips slightly above your knees, tipping your pelvis forward and thus creating an effortless natural arch in your low back. The position of the arched lower back can prevent the onset postural-syndrome pain.
- Describe how posture effects back health and list 3 ways to improve posture.
Posture is the body’s response to the force of gravity while standing, sitting or lying down. When your body is not supported adequately or in proper places, it produces a stress which results in overuse or over activity of certain group of muscles, easy fatigability, poor physical performance and pain in the neck and upper back. One may not suffer immediate health problems due to bad posture. However, overtime, poor posture places pressure on the spine thus provoking back pain. Improper posture over time leads to muscle shortening, muscle weakness, muscle spasms, disc derangement and loss of range of motion in the spine.
Three ways to improve posture-related back problems
Sitting on the Bed
Do not sit up and work on your bed. Instead use a chair while working in the bedroom. When you have to sit on the bed, sit with pillows so that you can rest the head and back comfortably (Porter, 2013). It is advisable to place pillows under ones arms while sitting on a bed so that the weight of ones arms are not borne by their trunk. This also relaxes the muscles of the back.
Lying Down Position
Evaluating ones position while lying on your bed is important. While lying down on a mattress, ensure that your ears, shoulders and hips fall in a straight line (Porter, 2013). This is method is also applicable while sitting and standing. When they are aligned in a straight line, the body weight is correctly and evenly distributed and soft tissues are not strained.
Proper Standing Position
Standing for long periods of time hurts the back. When one has to stand for long periods of time, propping ones foot on a small stool reduces stress in the lower back (Porter, 2013). This method requires one to alternate both feet. While standing for long periods of time, engage in bending over to touch your toes to help loosen ligaments, joints and muscles (Porter, 2013).
Wong, P., & Chia, M. (2012). Exercise personal training 101. Singapore: World Scientific Pub Co Inc.
Hister, A. (2013). Dr. Art Hister’s guide to living a long & healthy life. Vancouver [B.C.: Greystone Books.
Morrone, L. (2008). Overcoming back and neck pain. Eugene, Or: Harvest House Publishers. Porter, K. (2013). Natural posture for pain-free living: The practice of mindful alignment. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press.