Why everyone should take the time to stretch their muscles

Senior John DuPree

Senior John DuPree

Noah Wright , Staff Reporter

Creaky knees, stiff necks, worn shoulders and tight backs are all things that we go through on a daily basis. With age comes wear and tear on our bodies, but like everything in life we can prevent some of this damage through constant care.

A big preventative method for slowing down the wear and tear of aging is to stretch daily. It doesn’t have to be for long, because no matter how long you take to stretch, your life and body will be changed for the better by doing it. 

According to a Harvard Health article, “we all need to stretch in order to protect our mobility and independence.”

As people, we have very different lifestyles. Some people are very active, whereas others are more sedentary. But no matter the difference in lifestyles, the fact remains that our lifestyles directly impact how our muscle fibers form as well as how our muscles adapt. 

An office worker who is constantly sitting and lacks movement will have noticeably shorter and tighter muscles than someone that is constantly moving. There is a common excuse that people don’t have enough time to stretch because of their work schedule; however, this is just an excuse to justify the lack of effort put into stretching. 

An NBC article outlines that a person only needs to “schedule a stretch session 2-3 times a week … hold each stretch for 30 seconds.” There is a common misconception that you need to stretch for a long time, more than 20 to 30 minutes, but in reality you only need to stretch for around 10 to 15 minutes for your muscles to become looser. 

David Nolan, a physical therapist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital is quoted in the Harvard Health article when he says, “you don’t have to stretch every muscle you have.”

For the everyday individual, the main areas to focus on stretching would be the legs, shoulders, neck and lower back. These are the muscles that everyone uses on a daily basis, no matter how physically active they are. 

The trouble is when people hear “stretching” they automatically think of working out. However, John Ford, a certified exercise physiologist and owner of JKF Fitness & Health in New York City, is cited in the NBC article when he says, “another way in which stretching can be helpful is by leaving you better prepared to perform everyday physical activities. From carrying bags, to moving items in your office or home, or even running to catch the subway.”

Even though stretching is a big component to high performance activity, it is much more than a warm-up or cool-down. When you actually take the time to stretch and fully immerse yourself, it is an almost spiritual activity. 

Stretching is one of the best ways to become more attuned with your body.

When you are stretching you almost feel all of your stress go away. By controlling your breathing and listening to your body’s limits, it almost feels enlightening. 

Stretching is something that has to be eased into. It is wrong to think that you could start stretching and be extremely flexible. It takes a lot of time and effort to get to the point where you are really flexible. 

If you try to force a stretch past a certain point, you run the risk of pulling a muscle or seriously injuring yourself. The best way to stretch is by going to the point that you feel a stretch, then back off a little bit. 

This is a good way to go about stretching because over time you will be able to go deeper and stretching will start to become a part of your daily routine. 

Whether it is a morning activity, or a way to destress before bed, the benefits of stretching are numerous. If you want to live a healthy life and preserve your body’s ability to move for as long as possible, stretching is definitely an activity to incorporate into your daily routine.