Muscle Health 101 

If you’re interested in exercising at any level, muscle health is undoubtedly an important part of any work out. Just like you don’t want to drive your car without warming it up or making sure it’s had a recent oil change, you don’t want to jump into any kind of activity that causes strain to your body without making sure you’re prepared.

Going in unprepared could result in strains, contusions, cramps, or ruptures. And none of those are ideal; they could actually keep you from working out or doing basic tasks for surprisingly long periods of time as your body recovers.

We’re going to go over some beginner basics for muscle health before discussing practitioners who can help us keep our bodies functioning at their best. Whether you’re just going for a jog in the morning, or turning over truck tires for Crossfit, these tips and tricks are a great addition to your pre or post-workout plan!

The Basics: Stretching

We’ve all experienced it in gym class; that ten minutes of stretching before you’re made to do laps around the gym, or set up for a volley ball game. Try to reach your toes. Stand up and bend one leg at the knee, pulling your foot in from behind.

Stretching is boring, but it’s important. According to Harvard Health, stretching should actually be a daily activity. It sets your muscles and joints up for flexibility and ease of movement for the day. “Cold” muscles are easier to pull. Here are a few tips for starting your day with some stretches:

Hamstring stretch – stretch your legs out into a V shape and reach out to your toes, one at a time. This is a classic, and loosens up your hamstrings.

Hip pulls – lie on your back and carefully pull one knee up into your chest, while reaching forward with your chin. Release and repeat with the other knee. After resting for a moment, pull both knees in.

Neck roll – this is an easy one. Sit up straight, relax your head forward, and roll it around slowly in a full circle. You’ll most likely hear some cracks. Do this a few times to loosen up your neck and shoulder muscles, and work it into your daily routine!

Shoulder stretch – pull one arm across your chest and using your other hand, put pressure on it to stretch the muscles in your back and shoulder. Repeat on the other side.

The child pose – this is a common yoga pose used to both begin and end a session. Sit on your knees with your legs under you. Drape your upper body forward, with your arms stretched out in front of you, and relax.

If you’re interested in learning more advanced stretches, or just more stretches in general, there are countless apps out there for people at all levels and with various schedules that need to be worked around. Adding just a few of these to the beginning or end of your day will make a huge difference, and no doubt you’ll notice quickly that you’re going to bed or waking up less achy.

To segue into our next session, readers can take stretching even further by visiting a practitioner! There are a few different options to fit your needs, whether you’re looking to take care of chronic pain or just loosen up after a rough week.

Practitioners and Experts

Massage & Massage Therapy: Massage is the manipulation of soft tissues in the body, and its used to treat various issues. There are different types of certification when it comes to massage.

You can visit salons such as Massage Envy for the basics: deep tissue, sports, Swedish. Company websites will have short descriptions of what each type is meant to treat and how it will benefit your body. Prices will vary depending on where you choose to go and what exactly you’re looking for. Which brings us to the medical side of things…

Chiropractors: Chiropractors are concerned with the musculoskeletal system, especially the spine. Like masseuses, you can choose to make use of a chiropractor for long or short term. The adjustments they make to the spine and body adjust and loosen muscles, getting rid of strain. They can treat mis-alignment, sciatica, neck pain, sports related injuries, and even headaches.

Seeing a professional is a great idea if you’ve had long-term, underlying muscle problems and pain. They can treat you as well as direct you on how to stretch your body yourself for daily relief.

If your problems aren’t chronic, and you’re more interested in the general well-being of your body at the start and end of the day, then at-home or pre-workout stretches might be best for you. Check out apps for warming up and yoga, which has countless guides for all levels of fitness (or lack thereof!). No matter what you decide to pursue, it’s clear that muscle health is an important part of the daily upkeep of your body!

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