The benefits of stretching range from increasing a sense of well-being to preventing injury from repetitive, everyday activities. Even if you never break a sweat, you may be taxing muscles and joints by working on the computer, sitting for long periods of time or doing anything over and over. There are many stretches you can integrate into your daily routine to keep the body feeling limber and maintaining good circulation.
Many people hit the ground running as soon as they wake up. The body has been still for many hours and has accumulated some toxins. The blood flow and circulation are slower and the muscles are cold. If you jump out of bed and into a hurried morning, you're asking the body to quickly go from relaxed to tense.
Here's a 3 minute way to wake up in a more natural way for the body. After the alarm goes off, sit on the side of the bed and lift your arms up and your legs out in front of you. Take a deep breath and stretch up with the arms and out with the legs. Then take 30 seconds to make wide circles with the feet and wrists. Then take another 30 seconds to make wide, slow circles with the neck. Now put your hands behind you, just slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Arch the back at the mid-point to open the chest and breathe deeply into the stretch.
Most jobs, from administrative assistant, to auto mechanic, to grocer, to physician, to therapist, result in repetitive stress and often don't include overall body movement. One way to avoid repetitive injury can be to simply move to a different position whenever you can. This sounds simple, but you might notice yourself keeping your hands at the computer ready to type the minute the person on the phone says something.
You can also use your desk to stretch your wrists. Press the top of the hand to the edge of the desk with the fingers pointed to the floor. Bend the wrist forward as far as is comfortable. Now turn the palm upward and out and again move the top of the wrist as far forward as you can. You can also interlace the fingers in front of you with the right hand over the left wrist and facing the inside of the right hand. Bring the hands towards the chest, bending inward in a curved motion. Change so that the left is over the right and repeat.
Stretches before Bed
It's good to release the day's tension with deep breaths and allowing the body to slow down at a natural pace. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your toes pointed forward. Raise the arms to the side and over your head and breathe in as you raise your arms, exhaling as you lower your arms. Lie on the bed on your back and bend your legs at the knee. Cross one leg over the other knee and repeat on the other side. This allows the back to relax before you go to sleep.