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The Power Of Stretching

The definition of the word "STRETCH" really resonates with us here, as it is part of our businesses name: Stretch Beyond Impossible. To "STRETCH" is to expand beyond, in terms of the body, to stretch is meant to stretch beyond the neutral position, in the case of our business it's meant to stretch past your comfort zone, past mediocre, and beyond impossible. However,in this post we are going to discuss stretching exercises to improve your overall health and how incorporating a simple stretching routine into your daily routine can impact some many areas of your life.

Stretching increases your blood flow and circulation, sending oxygen to your brain for a clearer mind and more cheerful mood. Better circulation helps the body recover faster by removing waste byproducts in muscle tissue. Stretching can improve posture, reduce aches and pains, increase your self-confidence, and give you a better outlook on life.

Here are some important benefits of stretching:

  • Calms the mind and releases physical and mental tension

  • Increases blood flow to muscles which may reduce soreness & decrease recovery time

  • Increases blood flow to brain and the delivery of oxygen

  • Reduces physiological and mental effects of stress on your body

  • Increases energy level, reduces fatigue and leaves you feeling invigorated

  • Improves flexibility and joint range of motion so you body moves more freely.

  • Reduces arthritis pain by improving joint surface circulation, making it easier to move

  • Corrects posture by loosening muscles that get tight with increased time sitting

  • Decreases risk of injury by preparing muscles for optimal performance

  • Helps to reduce cholesterol and hardening of the arteries along with exercise & diet

One of the biggest health concerns today is stress. Stretching reduces the physiological effects of stress on your body by increasing blood flow and natural endorphins, and increasing oxygen to the body through deep breathing and relaxation. Stretching also reduces the mental and emotional effects of stress by giving you a reason to stop, rest your mind, and focus on doing something good for yourself that will improve your health.

You'll relieve stress. Stretching also helps calm the mind and reduce stress levels. When you're anxious, worried, or worn out, it places extra strain on the body, causing you to feel stressed. By taking a few minutes each day to unwind and relieve this unwanted tension, you will experience a sense of relief and stress will slowly start to fade away.

An example of a Stretch Routine:

Do this five-minute stretch routine when you wake up or before you go to bed. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds, and repeat all five stretches two to three times.

Downward Dog

How to do it: Come onto your hands and knees with hands directly below your shoulders and knees directly below your hips. Spread your fingers wide and tuck your toes under. Inhale and lift your knees off the floor, pressing your hips up toward the ceiling. Draw your heels down to the floor or keep a slight bend in your knees. Press your hands firmly into the mat and draw your shoulder blades down. Keep the head between the arms (don't let it hang). Take deep breaths the entire time.

Benefits: --Improves flexibility in calves, hamstrings and shoulders --Relieves pain in the low back --Elongates cervical spine, which relieves tension in the body and head

Low Lunge

How to do it: Come onto both knees and step your right foot forward. Make sure to keep your right knee over your heel and your left knee directly under your hip. Reach your left hand up toward the ceiling. Make sure to keep both hips facing forward and glutes engaged. Take deep breaths the entire time.

Benefits: --Improves flexibility in hips and quadriceps --Releases the psoas, which is part of a group of muscles called the hip flexors. Tightness of the psoas can result in lower back pain by compressing the lumbar discs

Lying Piriformis Stretch

How to do it: Lie on your back, bend both knees and bring your left ankle over your right thigh. Lift your right foot off the ground, bringing your leg up to a 90-degree angle. Loop your hands in between your legs and slowly draw your right knee in toward your chest. Keep your head and neck relaxed on the ground. Take deep breaths the entire time.

Benefits: --Improves flexibility in hips and glutes --Helps keep hip and knee joints properly aligned during activity and helps prevent sudden twisting --Allows for easy external rotation of the hips

Lying Spinal Twist

How to do it: Lie on your back and bring both knees in toward your chest. Bring your hands out to your sides and draw your knees up and over to your left side. Keeping your shoulder blades on the ground, rest your knees on top of one another. Take deep breaths the entire time. When changing sides (after holding for 30 seconds), make sure to use your core muscles to bring your legs back to center.

Benefits: --Lengthens and realigns the spine --Increases flexibility in the hips and low back --Stimulates the digestive system

Posterior Capsular Stretch

How to do it: Lie on your right side with knees bent. Bring your right arm to a 90-degree position out from your body. Use your top arm to slowly draw your right hand toward the floor. Make sure to apply a small amount of pressure to the arm, do not force range of motion. It's common to roll backward onto the shoulder blade, so make sure you stay directly on the shoulder. Take deep breaths the entire time. Repeat on the other side.

Benefits: --Reduce the risk of shoulder injury by improving flexibility in the rotator cuff and posterior capsule --Improve range of motion in the shoulder (improvement in sports with a throwing or swinging motion)

The top 9 benefits of incorporating stretching into your daily life include:

1. Improved Energy.

This is the best reason to get in a good stretch first thing in the morning. A few good stretches, conducted properly with deep breathing, can give you the burst of energy you need to start off your day. If you begin to feel sluggish during the day, take a quick “stretch break” to boost your energy level.

2. Increased Stamina.

A good, long stretching session can actually improve the stamina of your muscles. When you stretch, it increases the blood flow to those sore muscles and relieves fatigue. Stretching keeps oxygen flowing to your muscles, which delays the onset of muscle fatigue. As a result, this helps your muscles to “hang in there” for a longer period of time before fatigue sets in!

3. Improved Flexibility.

A common goal in pain relief therapy is to improve your flexibility and range of motion. Better flexibility carries a host of benefits. It improves your physical performance and reduces the chances of injury. Additionally, when you become more flexible, your body requires less energy to carry out everyday actions.

4. Better Blood Circulation.

One of the main goals of a stretching regimen is to get your blood flowing to the extremities. Blood carries oxygen to your cells and makes you healthier overall. This promotes cell growth and helps your organs function properly. Stretching also lowers your heart rate, which reduces strain on your heart and causes your blood pressure to become more consistent. Additionally, better blood circulation from stretching can also transport the nutrients in the blood and spread out all throughout your body as well. An increased blood and nutrient supply also helps reduce soreness and fatigue.

5. Improved Posture.

Stretching every day can help posture by lengthening certain muscles that have a tendency to tighten up when we sit in a chair long periods of time. Focusing on your lower back, chest, and shoulders will aid in keeping your spine properly aligned. Stretching also relieves aches and pains, which can cause you to want to slouch.

6. Decreased Muscle Soreness.

Give your muscles plenty of time to relax and loosen up with a good stretch before and after activity or being stationary. As mentioned, stretching improves blood flow to the muscles. This carries oxygen and plenty of necessary nutrients to the muscles, which in turn reduces soreness.

7. Improved Cholesterol.

Stretching sessions can help to reduce cholesterol in your body, as long as you’re also following a heart-healthy diet. This can help you avoid heart disease. Stretching has even been shown to reverse the effects of hardening arteries due to cholesterol.

8. Decreased Risk of Injury.

If you work in an office, you may think there’s no risk of getting injured. However, there is not entirely true – what about when you have to bend over, pick up, and carry a 20-pound box of office supplies? This could easily lead to a pulled or strained muscle, resulting in several weeks of pain and pain relief therapy to recover. Stretching regularly will greatly decrease the risk of an incident such as this occurring.

9. Decreased Stress.

We all carry stress in our bodies. Too much stress can cause your muscles to contract, which can make you feel tense and on-edge. Stretching releases natural endorphins, which will help you relax, boost your mood, and reduce the amount of stress in your body.

So although these techniques can seem hokey or silly or not worth it, life is really about what you put into it. It's like your bank account, which grows or shrinks based on how much you put into it or take out of it. This is a great technique to invest in your account to effectively manage your energy. After consistently using these tools to manage your energy instead of ignoring your bodies need for rest you will begin to feel better and the power harnessed from working with your body instead of against it. So before you knock the recommendation above, try it. Hopefully at least one of these techniques will work for you and you will see the value it adds to your life.

Are you struggling managing your energy throughout the day? Use some of the other tips from our Energy Management post to have more consistent energy in your day to enjoy what matters the most.

Are you getting enough sleep? Is sleep an area of your life that needs improvement? Take a FREE Sleep Assessment and than setup a FREE meeting to customize a plan to improve your sleep and energy management. “The quality of life you lead largely depends on how well you sleep at night.” So don't take the habit of healthy sleep lightly. Use some of the tips from our Bedroom Makeover Post to get the best sleep possible.

Here at Stretch Beyond Impossible, we believe in equipping people with the structure and tools necessary to live a life of balance and fulfillment. Our mission is to empower others to overcome everyday obstacles, experience everyday wins, realizing that you have everything you need within, to create the life you desire!!

Often times trouble sleeping goes hand and hand with other aspects of your life. Take a FREE Well-Being Assessment to determine what areas to focus on first. None of us are perfect, we start where you currently are, let's setup a meeting to customize a plan to suit your needs, and create an action plan that takes you from where you are right NOW to where you WANT to be!!!

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