You Are the Best Equipment
By Methmal Subasinghe
In today’s world, getting busy has become a requirement. Hardly anyone is obsessed with obtaining quality rest and free time for themselves. With the new normal lifestyle that has resulted due to COVID-19 pandemic, the lives have become more complicated and confused. Before the onslaught of this global pandemic, what most people lacked was time for themselves.
That means enough time to look after their exterior and interior selves. One positive result of the pandemic is that it somewhat eased the busy lifestyle of people and allowed them to spend more time with themselves and their loved ones. As people are getting accustomed to living with the unseen virus, they have now able to resume their work and study while being at home. Some are required to complete the same workload being at home.
The only difference is that there is no much travelling as earlier. Due to various responsibilities in day-to-day life, may they be family commitments, job requirements, or academics; a significant time has to be allocated to fulfil them. Due to such responsibilities, commitments, and requirements, the time that a person can allocate to engage in quality physical activity is significantly restricted that even engaging in a minor physical activity is challenging for many. That means they cannot find time for that.
You own the exercise machine, use it!
Imagine if you are the exercise machine that you wanted and you are actually the gymnasium too. That’s the new trend. Getting fit is not solely doing workouts with heavy weights, running all the time, or dieting. What you have to know is how to utilise your body machine for workouts. Flexibility is one of the major domains of overall physical fitness. Simply speaking, to improve flexibility, stretching is the form of exercise that one has to engage in. Stretching is neither the ability to touch your great toe with legs extended nor the ability to lift your leg to the ear.
Simple stretches are also as important as such complex movements and can be performed by everyone. In day-to-day life, we involuntarily involve in multiple body movements where the flexibility of the body is crucial. We are not mindful of our body movements. If our muscles are rigid, especially when aging, then we might feel the discomfort and restrictions in our normal movements. When the muscle becomes stiff as a result of long-term non-exposure to exercises, it is not easy to reverse that effect.
The best solution for that is to practice stretching to prevent them from being stiff. And most importantly, begin to practice them from an age at which you can do all these movements and stretches before too late. For smoother and comfortable movements, muscles function around the joints. The functional level of the joint and the structures around it play a vital role. If any one of these components gets involved in a maladaptive process, that can affect the movements. The common myth regarding flexibility is that joint disease is the main factor that causes reduced flexibility. The truth is it is not the case. In healthy people too, muscle stiffness mainly restricts the range of motions and flexibility.
When our body is not flexible, pain and discomfort can result. Most of the people are used to sit and work for a longer duration without adequate rest. Rest is not just sitting on a chair. Most are of the view that when they sit and engage in their work, their body is relaxed so that they can stay without doing any physical exercise, stretching, and relaxation. This is a dangerous myth. When you sit and work, you are not at all relaxed. Simply sitting does not mean that your body is relaxed. There are technics for relaxation and it is a different area to be explored. You Are the Best Equipment However, stretching is important for both the young and adult population.
For adults and aged people, it is equally important to engage in simple stretching exercises to stay fit and healthy. Practicing stitching routines in long run is beneficial during the latter part of life for healthy aging. If you want to develop a stretching workout, you must follow some simple but important steps. And it is time to shed the popular myth that stretches are only possible with exercise machines and in gymnasiums.
Your body machine and home gymnasium
If you can dedicate 5 minutes from your busy schedule that is enough to get significant results. You are not required to spend 30 minutes stretching all muscles of your body. Doing stretching daily is simple and you need to allocate only a little time. The best time for stretching exercises is after a jogging session or even after a hot bath. On these occasions you can successfully do a good stretching workout or else you can incorporate stretching into a relaxation routine even with few minutes of meditation. On the other hand, whenever you feel tense, you can do simple stretches even in your office or while travelling. You can even use stretches as energy boosters instead of a cup of coffee which might give energy but you may become more tensed with caffeine. Any beginner can try following simple body stretches.
Cobra stretch - Lie down and so as the dorsum of your feet’ faces touches the ground. Place your hands flat beside your shoulders. While keeping elbows by the sides gently raise your head and chest, your hips and groin should be placed on the ground. When you continue this for a couple of months regularly, you will even be able to lift yourself to the belly. During the pose remember to relax your neck and shoulders. Hold the stretch for 15-20 seconds and when you feel enough, gently lower your body to the ground. Knees-to-chest - Lying flat on your back, bring one knee to your chest and hold it in position with your hands to feel a nice stretch in your lower back.
Hold for 15 seconds or a little more. Neck stretch - Relax your shoulders and gently turn your head to your left. Use your left arm to get a hold of your right chin to move your face. Only stretch as far as feels comfortable. Hold for 15-20 seconds and slowly repeat on the other side. Shoulder stretch - Relaxing your shoulder blades back and down, reach one arm across your body, and gently use your other arm to deepen the stretch. Hold for 15-20 seconds and repeat on the other side. Side stretch - Stand with your feet hip-width apart and clasp your hands above your head. Gently lean your body to one side until you feel a deep stretch. Hold for 10-15 seconds and repeat on the other side.
The writer has completed his MBBS degree at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya and is presently serving as a lecturer at the same university in the Department of Biochemistry. He also holds a Higher Diploma in Sports and Exercise Science and is a freelance fitness instructor.