Well, no. They don’t. But WHY NOT?
Why do HUMANS feel the need to stretch, while ANIMALS seem to always remain fluid, lithe and perfectly balanced without stretching?
Well it’s a good question with no definitive answer… but here’s some thoughts…
Animals move a lot, and keep their bodies in coordination and fluidity. All mammal bodies are designed for MOVEMENT, including ours. But humans tend to a much more sedentary life, with furniture, cars, computers, the internet…
We spend a lot of time in inactivity… and our bodies become tight because of it.
We need to compensate for the fact that we don’t move enough by understanding and managing our body accordingly.
But even elite athletes who are training and moving all the time do regular stretching… so that doesn’t completely answer the question.
WHAT ELSE is going on here?
OK, well standing upright on two legs is a thing that humans do, that no other animal does.
Our bodies are PERFECTLY designed to stand upright in response to gravity. But getting our postural mechanisms to work exactly right is trickier than you might think.
We don’t know exactly why our modern lifestyle seems to cause us to mis-use our natural postural mechanisms. But it does.
And getting our bodies to stand freely, comfortably upright in response to gravity with minimal tension or pain takes conscious effort.
This can be learned, but hardly anyone seems to get it exactly right naturally.
And when things go out of whack with our bodies, and we feel tight in the wrong places, and also weak and slouchy in the wrong places… stretching can FEEL really good and can help us rebalance (though it won’t necessarily get our inbuilt postural mechanisms to work any better).
OK, well that could explain a lot. Is there anything else at play here?
Well actually, animals do stretch a bit.
You know when you get out of the car after a long drive, and you stretch your whole body and yawn at the same time? Animals actually do that.
This picture is a tiger doing it. She’s not going follow it up by lying in savasana and then getting a latte though.