Next to breathing and breath work, stretching is the most beneficial exercises we can do for better health.
Done in tandem, breath work and stretching are the best support for easing aches, pain, tension, headaches, tight muscles and unexplained pain elsewhere in the body.
The different types of stretching
Just as there are different types of flexibility, there are also different types of stretching. Stretches are either dynamic (meaning they involve motion) or static (meaning they involve no motion).
Dynamic stretches affect dynamic flexibility and static stretches affect static flexibility (and dynamic flexibility to some degree).
When done properly, stretching can do more than just increase flexibility.
Benefits of stretching include:
- enhanced physical fitness
- enhanced ability to learn and perform skilled movements
- increased mental and physical relaxation
- enhanced development of body awareness
- reduced risk of injury to joints, muscles, and tendons
- reduced muscular soreness
- reduced muscular tension
- increased suppleness due to stimulation of the production of chemicals which, lubricate connective tissues
- reduced severity of painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea) in females
Things to remember when beginning a stretching routine:
- Wear comfortable clothes that won’t restrict body movement
- Stretching should be pain free; don’t force the body into difficult positions
- Move into each stretch slowly and avoid bouncing, which can actually tear muscles
- Stretch on a clean, flat surface which is large enough to move freely
- Hold stretches long enough (20-30 seconds) to allow muscles or joints to become loose
- Repeat the stretch, generally 5 – 10 times
The most effective stretches
One good over all stretch for your body is to lie on the floor and gently bring your knees up to your chest. Once there, put a little pressure on your knees with two hands.
Gently raise your head up toward the knees. Breath, in, out, in out…..slowly. Stretch, then relax. Repeat.
The effect of stretching on healing
Stretching your body’s muscles will actually enhance the healing process.
Long, slow static stretching will help to increase blood flow and circulation, eliminating stasis and help to warm and invigorate the muscles and in turn lubricate the ligaments and joints.
Stretching the whole body will help heal pain even if that pain is localized to one area. This is true because all areas of the body are connected through the fascia which is a sheath that covers and surrounds all of the musculature throughout the body. So, it’s important to stretch the whole body.
One of the best over all stretches is the Sun Salutation
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