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A stretched muscle is a happy muscle

Stretched muscles help with posture and reduce pain. Find out how.

The body contains over 600 skeletal muscles that are designed to create movement in the joints. I used to think that there were pushing and pulling muscles – think of pushing a shopping cart – but it turns out that is not the case. Muscles can only pull. It’s their relationship to the joint that dictates whether it looks like a pulling or pushing motion. Think of muscles as rubber bands. When a muscle goes into action, it pulls in like a rubber band. The more elastic your muscles are, the smoother your movements will be.

Muscles need to be used

Muscles that are never asked to do any work do not get stronger during rest. Instead, they become tight and shortened, which cause pain. When you need the muscles, they will become tired easily because they are not used to performing any work. As a result, you may throw your back out while performing a simple, everyday task, such as picking your wallet up off the floor.

The body needs balance

When they are used, the muscles in the front of the body pull everything forward. If these muscles are shortened, a hunched-over posture will result. Therefore, in order to stand up straight, the muscles in the back need to be either equally long and strong or short and weak. In the best scenario, the muscles on the front and back of the body are equally elastic, requiring less energy to stay balanced. The relationship between the muscles on the different sides of the body (front and back or right and left) is important for both performance and well-being. Muscles that are repeatedly tightened – during stress – will lose their elasticity and stiffen over time since blood circulation decreases as we move less.

Common reasons for shortened muscle:

  • Stress

  • Bad posture

  • Static-load sitting (general inactivity)

  • Sleeping for an extended time in an uncomfortable position

  • Repeated movements

  • Training with poor technique

  • Sitting with crossed legs

  • Habitually carrying a bag on the same shoulder

  • Feeling cold

Stretching can help

Stretching increases joint mobility or range of motion. This, in turn, improves function and relieves pain allowing the body to move more freely without risk of injury. There are three main principles in stretching:

  1. Avoid pain

  2. Stretch slowly

  3. Stretch the correct muscle

Do this stretch to improve rounded shoulders:

  • Stand facing a corner with one foot in front of the other and the toe touching the corner

  • Make a W by raising your arms and put your elbows against the wall

  • Slowly move your body as a unit, no bending at the waist, into the corner until a stretch is felt in the chest

  • Hold :30-2:00 or until a release is felt in the chest

Now you’re on your way to better posture through stretching! Enjoy!

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