Stretching Towards Less Stress

By: STEPHANIE HELFRICH

Edited by: ERINN BOON

Do you ever feel like you need a large coffee or energy drink just to make it through the remainder of the day? Instead of reaching for the liquid right away, try to go natural by stretching first thing in the morning. Stretching is not only beneficial before workouts, it is something that can help you de-stress during the day while simultaneously waking up your muscles.

According to the Office Fitness Clinic, “regular stretching throughout the day will: reduce anxiety, stress, and fatigue”. There are many different kinds of stretches, each focusing on different parts of your body and varying in benefits.

Carolyn Clyons, an exercise science major, who has studied stretching says, “dynamic stretches are very beneficial.”  According to Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, “these stretches are more controlled than others, and promote flexibility, increase range of motion, and increase the temperature in the muscles”.  An example of a dynamic stretch is a runner using walking knee-lift stretches (mimicking running).

You can also wake your muscles up by adding breath-work to your routine.  Yoga instructor Faith Wollner suggests this relaxing and rejuvenating combination: “standing up with your feet down into the earth and arms down by your sides slowly reach up with left arm then right and reach as if you are trying to take fruit off a tree branch.  This stretch is great for your upper back and oblique. Breathe in and out of your nose while doing this at least 4 times on each side. Then release your arms down by your sides.”

The next time you catch yourself dozing at work or just need a little revitalization and increased focus, reach for your toes. It is a quick and healthy way to improve mental alertness and make you feel better both mentally and physically.

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