After walking my dog in the morning, walking to the subway, and walking up and down multiple flights of steps, I'm thrilled to sit down for a full day's work. But when I stand back up at the end of the day, my stiff muscles and joints are singing a different song.
It's no secret that sitting for prolonged periods of time can be detrimental to your health — research has linked it to several different serious health condition. And sitting without any physical activity has also been said to contribute to a loss of flexibility and feelings of tightness or stiffness.
In fact, Stretch*d, a one-on-one assisted stretching studio in New York City, sees a high percentage of clients for that very reason.
"A large portion of our clients spend long hours at their desks, essentially training their bodies to become chairs," Jeff Brannigan, the program director at Stretch*d, said.
"Being stuck in the same position, regardless of what you're doing, often leads to substantial muscle dysfunction, which then results in discomfort, misalignment, and sometimes injury."
You've probably heard the phrase "the body is meant to move," and Brannigan said that's why physical stress from inactive lifestyles is harder to manage than that of an active lifestyle.
"Even professional athletes, whose bodies are under constant stress, have an easier time seeing improvement because their bodies are in motion so much more than the average person," he added. "The combination of being at a desk for long hours and liking to exercise before or after work (with little or no recovery) is a recipe for disaster."
I exercise five days a week in the morning, but I'm generally pretty bad about stretching — aka, I don't do it. So even though I do try to take quick walking breaks during the workday, my body could definitely use a good stretch.
That's exactly what I experienced when I stopped in at Stretch*d for a 55-minute "Flex*d" stretch. The $100 treatment concentrates on the entire body, but allows extra time for problem areas — mine are my hips, shoulders, quads, and knees.
While it's a nice wellness splurge that's actually valuable for your body, stretching also shouldn't just be limited to one-on-one assists.
Brannigan said that you should be stretching on a daily basis, and that with just five to 10 minutes a day, a lot can be accomplished toward improved flexibility.
"Consistency is the name of the game when you're trying to become more flexible," he said.
To figure out the best stretch routine for you, try a stretching class, give at-home stretching routines a try, or speak to a certified personal trainer or a physical therapist. However, remember: if you're experiencing pain or have any concerns, it's always best to speak with a medical professional before engaging in any new activity.