Our arms are some of the most active and important muscles in our body. Whether you’re lifting heavy weights at the gym, grabbing the shopping out of your car, or typing all day at work, we need our arms to be at optimum performance throughout our day. A tweaked tendon, pulled muscle in our shoulder, or debilitating numbness in our hands can all put a damper on just about any activity, so it’s absolutely vital to make sure the limbs of our upper body are injury-free.
Athletes of course are some of the most prone candidates for arm injuries. A driving golf swing, hitting a tennis racket, or lifting up a dumbbell all carry their own respective risks for the participant. If you play sports or other forms of physical activity it’s a prerequisite to warm your muscles up before going hard. And as any professional athlete could probably attest, you're no good to your team stuck on the bleachers for a few weeks because you tore a muscle during play.
However, the benefits are not just prevention of injury but improved performance as well. Most athletes find that stretching either before or after a workout actually increases their range of motion and grip strength, thereby allowing them to crush it on the court far more effectively than when not stretching at all.
Even if you’re not particularly athletic and simply work on a computer all day, keeping your arms in a static position for extended periods is not doing them any favors. Arms that perform repetitive motions, like typing, yet don’t engage in any form of flexibility movements will eventually run the risk of swelling or tightness. This swelling then impacts nerves running down your arm and can lead to weakness, pain, and numbness in the hands. This is indicative of carpal tunnel syndrome and is now leading cause of hand surgery in the United States. Unfortunately, as our labor force becomes more and more involved with information and technology, these types of maladies are only going to increase.
One of the best ways to keep your arms functioning in top form is through stretching. Doing some targeted stretches when you wake up after a long night's sleep or after a workout session will keep the blood flowing in your muscles and improve flexibility. The more your flexibility is improved, the more you can do physically without the risk of tearing or pain. The better you can perform a workout, the more you can do, thus creating a positive feedback loop.
One of the best aspects of arms stretches is that they can be done just about anywhere. Unlike leg stretches, you don’t need a yoga mat and large amounts of unobstructed space to perform them. Taking a few minutes a couple times per day to stretch your arms, wrists, and hands out at your workstation will hardly garner a look from your co-workers. Many workplaces now even encourage their employees to do this as it saves them insurance payouts and lost days of productivity down the road.
Take a look and explore some of the arm mobility stretches below. No matter what your activity level is, they’re great to work into your daily routine whether at work or at the gym. Trust us, your arms will thank you for it.