smiling man in front of laptop stretching out his arms

Having Trouble Concentrating? Try Stretching!

We often correlate stretching with exercise. While it’s undoubtedly beneficial to stretch before and after a workout, the benefits of stretching extend well beyond the physical.

Stretching can help you feel better and make it easier to focus throughout the day. Whether you regularly face a mid-afternoon slump or are just feeling stuck in a rut at work, try adding a few simple stretches to your day to jumpstart your mind and get back on task.

The Impact of Posture on Your Focus

How we hold our bodies impacts how we feel, including our ability to concentrate. A recent study from San Francisco University tested students on their ability to perform simple math problems while holding correct posture versus sitting slumped over in poor posture. The students overwhelmingly performed better when they sat upright.

In the real world, we all too often find ourselves slumped over our desks without being prompted. This includes everyone from elementary school students to adults. The average American spends 10 hours a day sitting, often in a slouched position.

We can’t always change the amount of time we spend in a seat. What we can change, though, is how we hold our bodies while we’re seated and the ways we stretch our muscles to help our bodies obtain excellent posture.

Stretches to Improve Posture and Concentration

You don’t need to plan ahead to fit stretching into your day. It can be done anytime, anywhere, with no equipment necessary. Try incorporating these stretches into your workday to get a boost in energy as you reset your posture so you can get back to work.

Arm stretch

Stand inside a standard doorway. Place on hand on the frame at the height of your armpit to support your body weight. Start leaning forward until you feel tension between your biceps and pectoral muscles. Stand here for about 30 seconds, slowly increasing the tension. Then, swing your arm forward and backward a few times before repeating on the other side.

Neck stretch

Sit on your right hand in your office chair with your feet on the ground. Gently extend your neck to the left, trying to reach your left ear to your left shoulder (or however close you can get. Don’t force it if you feel tight). Hold for about 30 seconds. Then, repeat on the other side.

Back stretch

Reverse your curved spine with this back stretch. Sit on the edge of your chair. Plant your feet on the floor. Straighten your arms in front of you, then raise them over your head with your palms facing each other. Draw your arms behind your ears and bend your back slowly until your spine starts to curve backward. Look up at the ceiling as you breathe deep and hold for one minute.

Conclusion

The next time you’re having “one of those days” at work where you just can’t seem to focus on anything, try stretching. You might be surprised at how effective just a few minutes of stretching can be when it comes to increasing your productivity.

To learn more about stretching or to get assistance with your stretching, book an appointment with StretchSPOT. Our experts can help you determine the best stretches for your body and guide you through stretches that will help you feel better inside and out.

Woman smiling and walking and talking with a city backdrop

Sneak More Fitness into Your Day

At first, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendation of getting 150 minutes per week might sound like a lot. Broken down, though, that’s only 30 minutes of activity, five days a week.

Even better! You don’t need to fit 30 minutes of activity in all at once. Breaking your activity down into several short bursts of activity can be just as effective as exercising for 30 minutes at a time.

If you are struggling to find 30 minutes to be active a day, you aren’t alone. A 2018 report from the CDC found that less than 25 percent of Americans achieved the minimum guidelines regularly. Fortunately, there are several ways to sneak activity into your daily routine so you can sit less and move more without feeling the impact on other aspects of your life.

5 Ways to Move More Throughout the Day

1. Walk and Talk

Walk around your office or home the next time you are on a phone call with a colleague instead of sitting at your desk. Even standing instead of sitting will give you benefits by increasing your heart rate and burning a few extra calories.

2. Exercise During Commercials

You don’t need to give up watching TV to be more active. Designate each commercial break to run through a quick workout. Target one muscle group per commercial or do a full-body workout. For example, do 10 jumping jacks, 10 crunches, five pushups, and five squats during each commercial break. You could also march in place until the commercial break is over.

3. Stretch and Cook

Put that awkward time when you are waiting for your meal to heat up in the microwave to good use. Start with some shoulder rolls, then stretch your calves, glutes, hips, and arms. Use this trick at work while you heat your lunch and at home as you cook dinner on the stove.

4. Find Ways to Walk Further

Walking is an excellent exercise, and there are plenty of ways to add it to your day. Park your car far from the door to the grocery store. Use the bathroom on the floor below your office instead of the one that’s only 20 feet away from your desk. Take a walk after meals to improve digestion and keep your blood flowing. Short, five-minute walks quickly add up over the course of a day.

5. Set a Movement Timer

Set a timer on your phone, watch, or computer that will remind you to move regularly. For example, set a timer to move for five minutes per hour. Get up and walk around the building, do some jumping jacks or squats, or just stand and stretch at your desk for five minutes. If you do this once an hour for every hour of your workday, you will have completed more than 30 minutes of activity before you leave the office.

Commit to Moving More

With these easy ways to be more active, there’s no excuse not to meet the minimum activity requirements of moving 150 minutes per week. Commit to moving more throughout the day so you can enjoy the health benefits that come from being more active. Your heart, lungs, mind, and muscles will all thank you.

Massage Therapy vs Assisted Stretching: Which is More Effective?

Strong muscles are crucial for good health and superior performance. With regular muscle treatment, you can increase blood flow, relax joints and tendons, and improve circulation.

Massage therapy and assisted stretching are two of the best ways to provide muscle relief. In order to respond better to your body’s needs and wants, it will help to understand the methods and benefits surrounding each treatment.

How Massage Therapy Works

Massage is an umbrella term for pressing, rubbing, and manipulating muscles and ligaments to promote relaxation and recovery. It is a popular form of passive stretching wherein an individual stays put while a therapist applies external pressure on the part of the body that is being stretched. While a general massage therapy will involve work on the entire body, sessions can be customized to focus on specific or problematic areas only.

Massage may range from gentle stroking to deep pressure techniques. It’s best performed immediately after an intense workout or strenuous activity as it can help relieve pulls or strains, and leave a calming effect on the body. Massage can also provide much needed relaxation in the midst of a busy work week.

That being said, too much massage therapy can lead to injuries and overstretching. Wrong strokes, excessive pressure application, and skin abrasions due to friction may put the body at greater risk. Injuries stemming from massage techniques require immediate, and often expensive, medical treatment. In addition, a massage may leave you feeling drowsy and fatigued after due to the intense muscle manipulation that took place.

The Benefits of Assisted Stretching

Like massage, assisted stretching makes use of an external force to soothe tightness and keep muscles engaged. Assisted stretching may share several similarities with massage, but its main purpose is to enhance mobility.

During a typical session, a therapist will move and stretch out your body until muscles are elongated and the fascia is stretched out. Doing so will help remedy any distortions and reduce painful movement.

Muscle coordination and flexibility can become imbalanced as you age. You will also notice that your range of motion or your ability to move joints comfortably reduces as time goes by. All these issues may lead to mobility limitation and structural instability in the long run. With regular assisted stretching, you can boost flexibility and put less stress on your muscles, resulting to better performance and comfort.

The Secret to Pain-Free Mobility

While there’s no second guessing the healing potential of massage, assisted stretching optimizes recovery in ways massage therapy cannot.

Most individuals rely on massage for instant recovery. Assisted stretch takes it one step further by offering long-term solutions to rehabilitation. The goal of assisted stretch is to help people move freely to the best of their ability and live a pain-free life without undergoing surgery. As mentioned earlier, too much recovery can trigger injuries and soreness.  With assisted stretching, you can look forward to lower stress levels and greater strength and endurance.

At StretchSPOT, our professional therapists combine elements of Active Isolated Stretching, myofascial release and PNF techniques to help each client reach their health and fitness goals. Book an appointment today and experience the vast benefits of assisted stretching.

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