A wellness message by Dr. Kelsey Louie, Office of the Chief Medical Officer
Oh, that feeling of a good stretch!
As a physician, I recommend that people try their best to stretch daily or at least regularly. Stretching is for everyone, not just our athletes and pow-wow dancers.
Regularly stretching our muscles can help maintain a healthy range of motion as well as flexibility and strength. Stretching also releases toxins from your muscles and improves blood flow to them. Be patient if you are just starting a stretching routine -- improvements do not happen overnight! They may take weeks, or even months, but the benefits will be well worth it.
So where do you start?
Start with a simple routine. If you like, you can split the areas of focus throughout your schedule – one day, you may decide to focus on your shoulders, upper back and neck. Another day, you may decide to focus on legs, calves and hips.
Remember to “start low and go slow." I advise people who have been inactive and who are starting this challenge to go easy at first. In order to reduce the risk of injury, try to make your initial goal short-term, realistic, and achievable.
Your area of focus may also be related to what you do. Our fishermen and hunters may focus on stretching their backs and arms, our soccer players on warming up their legs. Office workers who sit in a chair for long periods of time will want to stretch out everything! This shouldn't be a tough habit to form as it will feel great.
In addition, to help ensure safety for those with chronic conditions or mobility issues, we encourage you to check in with your physician or health care provider before beginning a new regime.
Listen to your body!
Some days, I find I can go a little further or do a little more than other days. And other days, my body tells me I need to rest. That's okay! Our bodies know what they need.
A good workout may cause mild soreness or stiffness. However, if you are sore for an extended length of time or accidentally injure yourself, you may have done too much, too soon, or pushed yourself too hard. Again, remember to “start low and go slow."
When exercising, pay attention to any “red flags," including chest pains, extreme shortness of breath, or dizziness. These are things that may require medical attention.
I hope I've convinced you of the importance of stretching, and I look forward to hearing about your results!
If you are looking for an online workout to begin, visit our partners in wellness, Indigenous Sports Physical and Recreation Council (ISPARC) YouTube Channel for home workouts. Or try free Zoom classes with Lemon Cree Fitness & Wellness, an Indigenous-owned-and-operated company. For your free Zoom link, just email firstname.lastname@example.org. The 45-minute classes start Monday, September 28: Bounce Fit (with exercise ball) M-W-F 4:00 p.m. PST and Yoga T-Th at 9:00 a.m. PST.