By Faith Stewart
We all have that moment, first thing in the morning when the alarm goes off, that we stretch with every ounce of our being, and for some of us that may be the only stretching we do all day. You may wonder if stretching is really that important. You know that if you have a hard workout and don’t stretch afterwards, you may be a little sorer the next day, but there’s much more to it than that.
Stretching throughout the day, even outside of your workout routine has many added benefits. The more obvious benefits include improving aerobic and muscular conditioning performance, reducing risk of injury, and maintaining mobility. But one big benefit that is often overlooked is: flexibility in the hamstrings, quadriceps, and trunk can significantly reduce the risk of experiencing acute and chronic low back pain.
For those of us that spend most of our time sitting, whether in class or at a desk for work, we know that low back pain can sneak up on us, and when it does, it can severely impact our ability to go about our regular day. When the muscles in the hamstrings and quadriceps are tight, the back muscles have to work harder to support the body. Doing basic stretches during the day can help prevent this and can give your day a boost!
The easiest stretch that can be done to keep the hamstrings from getting too tight is a toe touch. This can be done sitting on the ground, or standing, which makes it perfect for work. In either position, reach towards your toes, keeping your neck and back in a neutral position until you feel SLIGHT tension in the hamstrings. Hold this for 20-60 seconds, rest for 20 seconds and repeat a few times. This stretch will release some tension in the hamstrings, increase range of motion in the hips, and flex the spine.
Remember, stretching should never be painful, if it hurts, ease out of the stretch.