When exam time approaches, most students tend to get into the arduous task of burning the midnight oil and studying long hours. While doing so, they sometimes forget how important it is to do a little bit of stretching just to loosen up their body and avoid unnecessary stiffness and aches. So in this section, we are going to discuss the benefits of doing quick stretches during exam preparation.
Why Stretching Is Important
Stretching is good for your overall health. It not only reduces the anxiety level during preparation but is also good for your academic performance. When the students study for long hours, their muscles, especially neck, and back muscles, really take a hit.
Stretching keeps the blood circulation going, thus improving your health. It also keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy and helps to maintain the flexibility required for motion in the joints. Without flexibility, the muscles shorten and become tight, and when you perform activities that require muscles in action, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. As a result, you will be at a higher risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage.
For example, sitting in the same place for studying all day results in the tightening of your muscles. When tight muscles are suddenly called on for any strenuous activities that stretch them, they become damaged. So in order to make your muscles strong, regular stretching exercises are very important.
Below are some simple stretches one can use during exam prep.
Reading from laptops or books builds tension in the neck. Neck stretches alleviate the tension inside our neck muscles. In order to do this, you just have to keep your upper body straight and then slowly twist your neck to the left and then hold it down for 15 seconds and then do the same rotating to your right side and holding it down. Perform these series alternately for about 10 -15 repeats. You will definitely feel the tension lessening inside your neck muscles.
Sitting on a chair or in the same position for a longer period of time also affects your leg muscles, most prominently in the way of the “pins and needles” feeling in your legs. So in order to get rid of pain from leg muscles, you can perform hamstring stretches. For hamstring stretches, start with any one of your legs. Straighten your leg and then keeping your foot straight slowly lift your foot up and then hold it up 20 seconds so that you feel stretch in your calf. Repeat this with your other leg. Repeat it on both legs for 15 to 20 repetitions.
It is obvious that you study for a longer period of time and many times you are unable to follow correct sitting postures properly. This may lead to many spinal problems. In order to combat such back ailments and to get rid of the problems like slip disc and severe backaches, you should practice back stretches frequently between studies. The steps are simple. First, you have to lie down flat on your stomach on a flat surface with your leg straight and then try to bend in the backward direction. Hold it there to a maximum of thirty seconds. Repeat these steps 10 to 15 times. It will definitely relieve some stress from your back.
The Standing Side Stretch
Sometimes you might have that feeling of numbness in your body when you are stationary at one point. This could be related to a lack of blood circulation in your body. In order to get rid of it you could perform standing side stretches. In order to do that follow the steps like:
- Stand with your feet together and your arms straight overhead. Clasp your hands together, with your fingers interlaced and pointer fingers extended. Inhale as you reach upward.
- Breathe out as you bend your upper body to the right. Take five slow breaths. Slowly return to the center. Repeat on the left side.
Try at least 15 -20 repetitions of this stretch.
The Seated Back Twist
To improve the stiffness in your back there is another set of stretches called the seated back twist which can be a panacea for your back and oblique muscle pains. Below are the steps illustrated on how to perform it:
- Bend your right knee and place your right foot over your left leg. Put your right hand on the floor, fingers pointing outward, for support. Bend your left elbow and turn to the right, placing the back of your arm against your right knee. Inhale as you sit tall.
- Breathe out as you twist, pressing your arm into your leg and looking over your right shoulder. Hold for five breaths, then slowly return to the center. After that switch to the other side and perform the same steps.
Repeat these for about 10 -15 repetitions.
Triceps and Arms Stretch
Writing and preparing notes for too long makes your triceps feel the tension and you might feel pain in your upper arm area. For this, you can do the following stretch:
- Lift your shoulders up towards your ears and then move them up and down
- Extend the right arm, then bend it at the elbow to bring the right palm towards the center of your back
- Use your left hand to gently push your elbow in towards the center, downwards.
- Hold this stretch position for 20 seconds. Perform 5-10 repetitions.
The great thing is that you do not require a lot of time and any gym equipment to perform stretches to get the benefits. You can feel a great sense of energy in your muscles when you perform stretches. It acts as a body massage that stimulates happy, destressing hormones and revitalizes your mind and body.