Stretching is one of the most underrated aspects of health and fitness. A good fitness program should always include stretching. In fact, any type of healthy lifestyle must include stretching for long-term health and comfort.
If you repeat any activity multiple times throughout a day, stretching become critical to avoid potential postural distortions down the road. For example, sitting for an extended period of time will lead to tightness in the hip flexor muscles. This tightness will lead to a compensation of an overarch in the back for most individuals. This arched back is a postural distortion and must be corrected to avoid low back pain.
So how is this overarched lower back corrected? Well, since tightness in the hip flexor muscles is the culprit, the obvious answer is to stretch said hip flexor muscles. A kneeling or standing hip flexor stretch for two reps of 30 seconds each side, done every day for a few weeks, should do the trick.
One should not wait for postural distortions to arise to begin stretching. Instead, think of any activities that are repeated throughout the day or any day. If you do a lot of chest work in your workout, stretch your pectoral muscles. If you walk or run a lot, stretch your hamstrings and calves. If you type a lot, stretch your forearms. It’s fairly simple, but not always obvious.
Another common postural distortion that can be corrected by stretching is rounded shoulders. Rounded shoulders are mainly the result of tight pectoral muscles and can be corrected by stretching these muscles. Similarly, internally rotated shoulders, characterized by the back of the hands facing forward in a standing or walking position, are caused by tightness in the pectoral muscles and the latissimus dorsi (lats). Stretching these muscles will help to put the shoulders in their natural position and improve posture.
Having good posture makes one look strong and confident. Their are many common distortions that can take away from this effect. Fortunately, a simple solution exists in stretching. It is not the only thing to be done to assure good posture, but it certainly goes a long day. Therefore, stretching should be a part of any good health and fitness routine.