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Why daily stretching is a health necessity



Working out is important as it keeps the body and the mind active.  When it comes to working out, stretching has always been the underdog. On one hand, people believe that it is an essential part of an exercise to avoid injuries, while on the other hand people believe that it leads to injuries itself. The truth of the matter is that both of these claims aren’t entirely incorrect. It’s the execution that makes all the difference when it comes to stretching.

According to Dr Sneh Soni, MD Physician, myUpchar, stretching on a daily basis, the right way, can lead to many health benefits. These range from:

Increasing your range of motion:

Just like most inanimate objects, if we don’t use our body and our joints regularly, they begin to get rusty. Doing stretching exercises regularly ensures that your muscles remain healthy, maintain their flexibility, and don’t become a hindrance when you do need to use them. Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching, in particular, is found to be extremely effective in increasing your range of motion. PNF stretching is a technique that uses your natural reflexes to give you a deeper stretch. Consult a physical therapist if you would like to explore PNF.

Boosting performance

When it comes to sports, engaging in an active warm-up is considered the norm. This is where dynamic stretching proves to be very useful. A study published in the ‘Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research’ shows that instead of static stretches, dynamic stretches can boost overall performance by improving flexibility, speed, endurance, etc. In dynamic stretching, you don’t hold a position for too long, instead, you keep your muscles moving in a similar motion to that of the sport you’re about to play.

Improving blood circulation

A recent study published in ‘The Journal of Physiology’ suggested that passive stretching, done for a period of 12 weeks, can help dilate the arteries and aid in reducing the stiffness in them. This leads to better blood circulation, which is one of the key factors in the prevention of vascular diseases like strokes, hypertension, and diabetes. Passive stretching is when you remain in one (relaxing) position while your muscles are stretched with the help of a partner, prop, accessory, or even a wall.

Helping you relax

Over the duration of the entire day, many of us can end up accumulating stress with physical implications. Sitting at a desk with a slight hunch, for example, can prove to be extremely harmful to your posture, muscles, and even bone structure. Even stress can stiffen your muscles. By employing the use of some basic and practical stretching techniques, you can relieve this physical discomfort and stress, which may allow you to rest easier during the night and wake up feeling refreshed.

Preventing strains and injuries

Stiff muscles can prove to be dangerous — when you suddenly stretch them during your day to day activities, they could either end up putting unexpected pressure on your joints or lead to an injured muscles itself. Adding even just a few stretches to your daily routine can help you avoid this by improving the flexibility of your muscles and giving endurance.

Relieving chronic pain

There’s a reason why stretching has been included in physical therapy interventions for the management of shoulder, neck, back, and knee pain. While you might imagine that stretching is not as effective in pain management as muscle-strengthening exercises are, a study in the journal ‘Clinical Rehabilitation’ found that only stretching was just as effective in reducing pain as a combination of strengthening and stretching over a year of physical therapy.



A step in ‘good taste’ helps hill women become self-reliant



A small but meaningful intervention by the Himachal Pradesh government has taken these rural women on their journey to economic empowerment during Covid crisis.

The case in point is of the Sudarshana Self Help Group (SHG) of women in Gram Panchayat Samoli in remote Rohroo sub division of Shimla district.

The 25 village women in the group are making jams and chutneys from the C grade apples available locally, selling them across the country and are earning good profits. ( Rohroo forms part of the apple belt in Shimla district).

“We had attended a three-day workshop organised by Horticulture Development Officer Dr Kushal Mehta sometime back, wherein we were trained in making quality products from apples. We were taught the minute details about the fruit and various stages of fruit processing. With those tips, we started making apple jam and chutney for sale. This has added to our household income and women are happy about it,” said Sudarshana, who heads the SHG in Samoli.

She said the apple jams and chutneys made by the rural women are available in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Nagpur and Delhi. The products from Samoli Panchayats would soon be available in many other cities in the country.

“The apple chutneys are being sold from Rs 400-800 per kilogram,” she said. Elated by the response, the women are also keen to expand the sale of pickle, chips and sauce made from apples now. The provision of interest free loans by NABARD is also helping the women improve their household economy through small ventures.

Horticulture Development Officer, Rohroo, Kushal Mehta said looking into the success of the Sudarshana SHG, the department plans to organise more such workshops for rural women in other gram Panchayats in Rohroo subdivision. “This will build the capacity of women in different areas and they can benefit economically from this, like the women in Samoli,” he said.

He said the Nodal Officer Dr Dev Raj Kayath and then Deputy Commissioner, Shimla, Amit Kashyap also had a role in this empowerment of women. “They stressed on the trainings to make the rural women self-reliant during Covid-19 crisis so that the rural economy is strengthened,” he said.


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Books & Authors

‘Bikhre Sapne’ by Author M. Murtaza – Dreams Did Not Fall In Place But The Story Did



Author M. Murtaza is already a known name in the realms of Hindi literature. Murtaza stirred the Hindi literary world with ‘Ankur’ – his first Hindi novel which got published in 1985. Post that he had penned many masterclasses like “Gosha E Noor” (Urdu 2002), “Roshni kaa Minaar” (Hindi 2003), “Tasawwuf” (Urdu 2010), and “Baagh ki Khooshbu” (Urdu, 2019).

Each of the above-mentioned books got critically acclaimed due to apt reason. So, when a writer of this calibre comes up with his next book, it is bound to have a lot of expectations from the readers. M. Murtaza lived up to that expectation in his latest book ‘Bikhre Sapne’. The story is about Raajan – a resident of Shivpur village and his mother Rukmini – a poor widow. The different episodes of the lives of Raajan and Rukmini are beautifully narrated – some are heart melting while some are gruesome.

Just like his other works, Mr. Murtaza treats the plot and the characters of the book ‘Bikhre Sapne’ in a cinematic way. The readers can surely hope to see this story getting transformed into a movie soon. The narration is so good that it’ll create a strong case as a screenplay with an immediate effect.

The two most important points which click for the book are the simplicity of the language used to narrate the story and the holistic nature of the characters sketched. These two aspects work as the manual for any aspiring Hindi writer.

The only aspect which could have been better about the book is its cover page. The publisher could have been a little more careful on this aspect. However, as a whole, ‘Bikhre Sapne’ qualifies as one of the books which readers from all walks of life will cherish for a very long time.               

Buy “Bikhre Sapne from Amazon for just Rs.301

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Lahaul tribals warm up to hopes ahead of this winter



“We have lived our lives in all sorts of hardships in this cold desert. But certainly, this time we are not that fearful of winters,” said Shanti, 58, while digging out potatoes from a field at Kutbihadi village in Lahaul valley of the tribal Lahaul Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh.

Non-literate Shanti and her matriculate husband Ramesh used to shift to Manali during the winters ahead of the closure of the snowbound Rohtang Pass every year earlier and survived with whatever money they earned by cultivating seed potatoes in a small area in Lahaul in a season. Their children are studying in Kullu.

“Our village and a number of villages around Koksar face avalanche threat in winters that damages our houses. We can’t stay back in winter months even after the construction of Atal Tunnel. But we are relaxed and there is no panic as we can travel back home to look for our belongings as per need through this tunnel,” Ramesh, 54, said.

The cold desert of Lahaul Spiti has the toughest terrain under very harsh weather in Himachal Pradesh.

The two valleys ~ Lahaul and Spiti ~ are separated by over 14000 feet high Kunzum Pass.

Lahaul tribals

Spiti is connected to the other side of Himachal through the tribal district of Kinnaur, while travel to Lahaul from Manali involved crossing over a 13050 feet high Rohtang Pass (which remained closed for five months due to heavy snow in winters).

The travel to Lahaul will now be much shorter (by 3-4 hours) and much easier throughout the year from this all weather tunnel.

Despite much progress over the last two decades in terms of road and phone connectivity, the Lahaul valley saw majority locals migrating to Manali and Kullu in winters to avoid the harsh life back home all these years. The others staying back to look after homes had to prepare in advance for winters, especially in terms of food stock.

A large number of people left the area to settle outside permanently that contributed to some drop in population growth in Lahaul Spiti from 2001-2011.

“This had to happen as the medical facilities in tribal Lahaul Spiti have been very poor. There are no specialists to handle emergencies. The facilities for higher education are nil here. We had to send our children outside for education to keep pace with times,” said Jagannath, 49, who runs a hotel in Keylong.

“The connectivity will make our life easier from now on. But for two-three months in winters, it snows heavily and is extremely cold as the temperature dips to 15-20 degree Celsius in many areas, so people, especially elders and women, may still have to stay out,” he added..

The tribals find that the all weather connectivity will ultimately change the course of development in Lahaul in terms of health, education and overall economy with its mainstreaming.

“The government employees also won’t evade postings in this area with round the year connectivity. The farmers will now have easy mobility to market cash crops like peas, potatoes and vegetables outside Lahaul. Many times, our harvest used to rot due to road block in uncertain weather,” said Krishan, 52, a farmer in Keylong.


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