While we work on getting back into our routines after the holidays have come and gone, healthy lifestyles regularly top the list of New Year's priorities. One activity that often gets overlooked is stretching. As all of my massage and training clients know, I am a huge advocate of daily stretching. While there are sometimes mixed reviews as to the extent of the difference stretching can make, there are some health benefits that cannot be overlooked. I advise all clients to get into a daily morning and evening stretching routine. It does not need to be long in duration but it does need to be consistent.
Stretching in the morning helps the body to wake up and prepares it for movement. Posture is improved through stretching by lengthening tight muscles that can pull areas of the body away from their intended position. Blood circulation is increased which helps promote good organ function and cell growth.
When stretching before bed key areas of tension (such as neck and shoulders) are released allowing our bodies to realign themselves. Muscles become softened, relaxed and ready for rest. Stretching helps to prevent restless sleep by allowing for more natural body positions to be achieved during sleep.
Regardless of what time of day you do it, stretching will improve flexibility, increase range of motion in joints and decrease risk of injury by helping joints move through their intended full range of motion. Make sure to stretch both sides of the body equally to enhance symmetry. Hold each stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds. Do not bounce while stretching, it can cause injury. Breathe normally while stretching, do not hold your breath. Finally, do not aim for pain. You want to feel tension but not actual pain. If pain is felt, back off of that stretch. Restart by stretching only to the point of tension but no farther.
If you prefer to have your stretch sessions guided while you learn the basics call to schedule a 30 minute stretch session today!
Happy New Year and Happy Stretching!