Conscious Cat Sunday: the benefits of stretching

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Stretching is an important part of healthy living: benefits range from increased flexibility and mobility to better athletic performance and decreased risk of injury. A regular stretching program has been part of my daily routine for more than 30 years. I’ve had minor back problems ever since I was a young adult, and twice daily stretching exercises have most likely helped save my back again and again.

And who better to teach us the importance of stretching than our cats? Have you ever seen a cat get up from a nap without thoroughly stretching first?

Stretching is actually an instinctive activity: most people stretch without having to be reminded before they get out of bed. It appears that our bodies naturally protect us from injuring ourselves by moving too fast after a period of inactivity. Depending on your age, and what kind of physical condition you’re in, you may find that even getting up from being seated at your desk for a long period of time will result in aches and pains unless you stretch first.

There are multiple benefits to stretching:

  • Improved circulation. The increased blood flow to the muscles removes toxins, and can help speed up recovery from injuries.
  • Better posture, balance and coordination. Stretching prevents muscles from tightening up, and the increase in flexiblity provides better balance.
  • Stress relief.  Tight muscles, especially in the neck and shoulders, are often a by-product of stress.
  • Increased flexibility. Do you remember a time when you could touch your big toe to your nose? For most of us, those days are long gone. While stretching may not restore the level of flexibility we had as a child, it can go a long way toward making ordinary tasks such as bending down to tie your shoes easier.
  • Ease lower back pain. Tight muscles in the lower back, hamstrings, buttocks and hips are the most common causes of lower back pain. I can attest to the fact that a regular stretching routine is key to maintaining good back health.

Let your cats remind you to make stretching a regular part of your daily routine. Your body will thank you for it.

Do you have a regular stretching routine?

6 Comments on Conscious Cat Sunday: the benefits of stretching

  1. Bopeeps
    October 28, 2012 at 3:03 pm (5 years ago)

    I do a couple of yoga exercises every day..a couple of times a day for my back. When I hear that crack..then I know that I’ve given myself my own adjustment 🙂

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      October 28, 2012 at 3:22 pm (5 years ago)

      I love it when you get that “bonus” adjustment during stretching, Diana!

      Reply
  2. Jenny | Floppycats.com
    October 28, 2012 at 1:35 pm (5 years ago)

    I wholeheartedly believe in stretching! I stretch when I get up in the morning and before I go to bed at night. I love it. And if you watch a cat, they love it too. It makes me think of what the acupuncturist says when she puts her hands on Charlie and Trigg, “Cats take such good care of their bodies – unlike dogs and humans do. We beat up our bodies.” I think it is definitely one thing to learn from a cat – to take care of your body and be aware of it! Cats are completely aware of their bodies and I learned the importance of that when I had a thyroid disease for 8 years. I so aware of my body now.

    That is a fantastic photo on this post too! Great topic!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      October 28, 2012 at 3:21 pm (5 years ago)

      Your acupuncturist is right, Jenny. We can definitely learn from our cats when it comes to taking better care of ourselves.

      Reply
  3. Bernadette
    October 28, 2012 at 11:28 am (5 years ago)

    My favorite stretch is to completely open up–I believe it’s often called “star posture” in yoga–standing with feet apart and toes spread, stretch my arms up and out at about 10:00 and 2:00, fingers spread, and tilt my head back just a bit, arch my back and take a deep breath. It’s the best antidote for sitting in a chair, which I do entirely too often!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      October 28, 2012 at 3:21 pm (5 years ago)

      That sounds like a great stretch, Bernadette.

      Reply

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