Get Your Stretch On
Stretching for Physical and Mental Health
When I say “it’s important to maintain your physical health”, what are the practices that comes to mind? Exercise? Aerobic and anaerobic workouts? Weights and cardio?
While all of these are important aspects in maintaining our “physical health”, we seem to always forget a very important component and that is flexibility! So why incorporate this? How would us trying to touch our toes improve our physical health?
When we stretch, our blood begins to circulate throughout our body, which in turn, moves blood and nutrition to our joints. Not only does stretching increase flexibility, but it also helps to improve joint range of motion, improve sports performance, improve posture by fixing muscle imbalances, reduce physical pain AND decrease stress! Stretching not only improves physical health but our mental health, as well!
While there are many different types of stretching, we want to focus on dynamic and static stretching.
- Dynamic stretching is movement-based; picture a boxer performing dynamic stretching by moving their arms in a wind-mill motion. The continuous motion itself allows for muscles themselves to bring about a stretch.
- Static stretching is when we focus on “holding” a particular position; reaching down and touching our toes for 30 seconds.
Dynamic and static stretching have their own benefits and each needs to be implemented at specific times. Dynamic stretching is best used before we start exercising, using sport specific movements. Static stretching is best implemented after a workout or activity and focusing on the muscle groups we were using during the exercise.
Everyone’s stretching needs are individual- so what feels simple and easy for you may be more difficult and painful for another, so listen to your body! Keep your stretching routine simple and enjoyable. Your routine can be as quick as 5 minutes or as long as 45 minutes. Aim to make stretching part of your weekly routine so that it fits your needs and schedule. Below are some guidelines to follow when implementing a new stretching routine!
Hold each stretch for 30-60 seconds
Stretch both sides
If it’s painful, ease up
If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed with the different types of stretching and how to perform a stretch, that’s ok! There are some amazing apps you can download to your phone that will walk you through all the movements. Pocket Yoga, Daily Yoga, 5 Minute Yoga, and Yoga Glo are just a few apps that can help you create a routine that meets all your physical needs. You can also check out a beginner’s yoga or Tai Chi class, the benefits are endless; improved physical strength, reduced physical pain, decreased mental stress, and improved athletic performance!
Fact: It appears that keeping your body more mobile in the long-term will decrease your likelihood of cramping during your training sessions.
Awareness Challenge this week: To create a long-lasting habit create a plan, start small and keep the habit up no matter if it’s 5 minutes you can fit in your schedule or 20 minutes. This is how little goals become lifetime habits.
Tune in next time; we’ll teach you the different types of fasting and benefits!
In the meantime, if you’d like to know more about living a healthier lifestyle, reach out to us for our professional guidance and support. Give us a call!
“Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough.” – Og Mandino
Blog Photo Credit: Trent McCloskey
Cover Photo Credit: Human Window