Are you wondering if stretching is something you should incorporate into your lifestyle? The short answer, 100% YES. Stretching is an underrated power tool for daily living.
With over 25 years of teaching Movement & Mindful Living, I know that stretching is not only vital for creating balance & longevity in the body, but it’s essential for supporting health & harmony in the mind too.
Range of Motion
As we age, one of the biggest issues we face is our range of motion, or more specifically, our lack of range of motion. Flexibility goes by the wayside if we don’t stretch daily. Stretching supports muscular flexibility, balance, and strength. We need flexibility in order to maintain a healthy range of motion in the joints. Stretching essentially reverses the aging process, loosening up what wants to naturally shorten and tighten.
When we tear a muscle, it’s because we stretched it beyond its capacity. With stretching, you are expanding your muscle fibers and increasing your flexibility. Muscles that are fluid and agile are less prone to injury. The cool part is stretching will actually help build strength. Warming up your muscles with Dynamic Stretching before your workout will bring blood flow to your muscles and decrease tightness that could result in a strain or tear. Cooling down with Static Stretching is most effective at the end of your workout. Stretches that are held for a longer period of time will help lengthen and loosen your muscles and connective tissue.
Eases Aches and Pains
Oftentimes if we have aches and pains our muscles will begin to tighten up and our blood circulation will begin to decrease. Stretching stimulates receptors in the nervous system that slow the production of stress hormones. Stretching tends to feel good because it activates your parasympathetic nervous system while increasing blood flow to your muscles. Stretching releases endorphins. Endorphins are those feel-good hormones that will help reduce pain and actually enhance your mood. Stretching will also improve your posture. Sometimes our aches and pains are associated with jobs or school that require us to sit for long periods of time. Setting your timer to stand up and stretch for just a few minutes every few hours, will loosen up muscles and joints, combat daytime stiffness and increase blood flow circulation. Increased energy is a side effect of stretching.
Helps You Relax
As a healer, I know from experience through teaching -- as well as utilizing stretching for myself -- that stretching cradles you into relaxation. Stretching helps your mind find calmness and space between thoughts. Stretching grounds us deeper into our bodies, taking us out of our churning minds. Exploring the depths of your stretches (not to the point of pain, though), will ease you into a peaceful place of connection and relaxation.
It’s Self Care
One thing so many forget to remember is that self-care is as important as caring for others. It’s easy to let this one go, to make work or family a priority, instead of setting aside time to take care of yourself. Self-care is not selfish. It’s quite the opposite really. Have you ever heard the saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup”?
Fatigue, stress, and anxiety can cause the brain to slow down, making you think more slowly, react more harshly, and find it more difficult to make decisions. Adding stretching to your self-care routine will actually benefit those that surround you. By taking time to fill up your cup, you will increase your tolerance for “life”.
Remember, stretching isn’t just an act for cool yoga pictures or pilates classes. While that is helpful, stretching is really a way of life. It’s a necessary component for ultimate health and wellness.
Our world is constantly changing and at times, it can feel very tumultuous. Stretching creates peace, brings a sense of balance, and grounds us deeper into the present moment.
If you’re looking for different ways to incorporate stretching into your daily self-care routine, or you need support in knowing which stretches to do for your specific body, I’d love to light up your stretching path. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.