Love them or hate them, cats are without a doubt one of the most agile animals on the planet.
Domestic cats can jump over five times their height and are incredibly flexible.
Cats are interesting to watch too. They have great speed, stride, and can get their bodies into the most cramped spaces, and the most curious positions.
Cats love to stretch, and once a cat wakes up, the stretching begins.
“Cats stretch to get their muscles moving again after periods of inactivity, whether they’ve been sitting still or sleeping” said Andrew Cuff, a postdoctoral researcher of anatomy at the Royal Veterinary College in London.
“When a cat is sleeping or relaxed, its blood pressure drops. The same is true for people. Stretching can help to reverse that.”
“As you stretch, it activates all of your muscles and increases your blood pressure, which increases the amount of blood flowing to the muscles and also to the brain. This helps wake you up and make you more alert.”
“As the muscles start moving with each stretch, they also flush out the toxins and waste byproducts that build up during periods of inactivity. For instance, carbon dioxide and lactic acid can accumulate in a cat’s body, but stretching can increase blood and lymph circulation, which helps to remove the toxins.”
What’s more, stretching readies the muscles for activity.
Newborn babies stretch a lot too. Unlike children, teenagers and adults, they have nowhere to go and are accountable to no one, so they do what comes naturally. Babies, like cats are incredibly supple, it’s only as they get older that their flexibility appears to decrease.
Is this simply a fact of life or a matter of ‘use it or lose it?’
My friends daughter is a Ballet dancer, she’s 18, as agile as a cat and stretches 2hrs a day.
Now most of us don’t have 2hrs a day to stretch but I bet we can all find 15mins.
When I stretch before I ride, swim or run I get more out of the session. I tend also to stay injury free, have fewer massages and have no reason to call upon the services of an Osteo, Chiro or Physio.
Stretch, do it first thing in the morning, immediately after your longest period of inactivity – sleep.
Stretch and you’ll go a long way to regaining your agility and staying injury free.