As a personal trainer and torturer of my clients and myself I am often guilty of not stressing the importance of consistent stretching. At Energy Fitness after all we can only squeeze in so much during our 30 minute strength training sessions. If alas our clients and YOU know the many aspects of flexibility you may be so be inclined to add stretching to your daily routine of self-care.
Stretching often is an afterthought or something people only feel that is needed to be done occasionally when there is an ache or pain to be stretch out.
“I’m all for being efficient with tasks in order to be more productive but let’s face it you can’t grunt and force your muscles into submission in terms of flexibility and lengthening the muscle.”
Each of you are unique in how much range of motion you are capable of for different muscles. Stretching is not like doing a bicep curl and forcing one more rep out.
Bend your mind to rethink stretching.
Wise words from our Sensitive Sage, Reiki Master/Intuitive Healing Practitioner/Yoga Instuctor Diana Sullivan:
- The breath is the remote control of the mind.
- It takes 8-12 breaths for your body to finally relax and achieve the full stretch
- Theta waves are proven to heal the mind and body, and the way to get the brain into that space is via the breath.
- Science is now showing that long deep breathing with the head below the heart slows the adrenal response and can slow the symptoms of an oncoming panic attack.
- For the sufferer of neck or back pain, learning how to access this relaxation response may be used in the short term to cope with the pain or discomfort of an attack, by helping the relevant muscles relax.
Do it more mindfully!
- Breathing rate increases with breath holding so instead TRY ‘taking a deep breath in before re-stretching’ to signal the body that you are about to stretch further.
- As you hold each stretch incorporate micro movements to by seeing how you can move your body by either rotating the hips, torso, pelvis or shoulders to get just a little more range of motion?
- Change your breathing patterns during different phases of the stretching process to help your body and mind learn the essential relaxation.
- The best way to achieve better stretch results is the teach your muscles to behave as you wish, and use the C–R (contract-relax) approach combined with a focus on breathing. This method works great for the hamstring lying on your back stretch in which case you would flex your quad for 5-10 seconds then relax and pull deeper into the stretch and exhale.
The side bending stretch pictured above is more than just stretching the sides and lats but it’s additionally allowing your obliques to be elongated helping your hips to have more movement. Imitate the picture and try tucking your pelvis, shifting your weight, lengthen your abdomen, push out your chest, rotate your shoulder, stand taller. All of these micro movements can allow you to deepen the stretch. Each time you do a new movement take a breath and then exhale. Now, look at the shoulder and hamstring picture. Can you see how tight my low back is? Focus will be to rotate the pelvis forward like I’m dumping water out of a bucket or rotating the sacrum upwards towards the ceiling.
Other stretch positions may suggest you to breathe out as you get into the position. Usually, this will be to empty the lungs momentarily to facilitate bending forward or twisting.
In today’s stressful world were all running around in the flight or fight stage much to often and for extended periods of time. Muscles that are pre-stressed for one reason or another are often the muscles of the neck and upper back in which case the stretches shown may help.
Together with stretching and strengthening exercises, improving the relaxation response forms a highly efficient, multi-stranded approach to increased overall health.
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