Become A Human Pretzel
The importance of stretching
I recently went on a yoga and sound bath retreat day and absolutely loved it! I felt so deeply relaxed, both mentally and physically. I then asked myself the question, ‘why don’t I do this more often?’ I know I’m not alone in this. Many of our clients say the same thing. They have conditions or injuries they need to manage through flexibility and range of motion exercises, which they never quite get around to doing.
As this seems to be a sticking point for many of us, I thought I’d provide us with an overview of the benefits of stretching, in the hope it’ll give us the nudge we need to take action.
How Stretching Helps
- Stretching creates space by elongating muscle fibres and mobilising joints
- It keeps the muscles flexible, at their optimal length and therefore, strong and healthy
- It keeps joints mobile, stable and free from uneven strains and stresses, reducing aches and pains and improving posture
- Stretching improves performance and reduces the likelihood of injury
- It can promote a feeling of physical and mental wellbeing - relaxation for the body and mind
- Having healthy soft tissues and joints becomes increasingly important as we age, as it helps to maintain strength, mobility and stability. Lack of stretching results in short, tight muscles and restricted range of motion through joints
When Should We Stretch
- Stretching before exercise can help warm the body up and prepare for more intensive activities, reducing the likelihood of injury
- Stretching post exercise helps to slow the body back down, helps increase flexibility, blood flow, reduces the intensity of delayed on-set muscle soreness (DOMS) and removal of lactic acid
What Kind of Stretches Should We Do
- Static stretching - stretches performed by holding the body in a certain position for a period of time - 20 to 60 seconds
- Dynamic stretching - uses exaggerated movements often associated with the exercise about to be performed to warm up and stretch the muscles. The stretch position isn’t held for a prolonged period of time, its purely a functional stretch, which helps with muscle memory
Typically, dynamic stretching is used before a workout to get the body warm and the muscles/joints active. Static stretching tends to be used post workout to slow the body down, lengthen and relax the muscles. It is very much a personal preference.
....Back to Yoga
On the yoga and sound bath retreat, we were given the opportunity to to try 3 different types of yoga - Hatha (positions held for short periods of time/static stretches), Dru (series of positions strung together in short succession/dynamic stretches), Yin (holding positions for prolonged periods) - followed by Tibetan Bowl Sound Bath and Dru Meditation. Each of these elements were very different from one another, but complemented each other, stretching the body using both static and dynamic stretching. The Sound Bath and Meditation were particularly effective at reducing ‘internal noise’ and fully relaxing the body.
If you’re interested in going to a yoga retreat day I can highly recommend Carly, who is hosting her next yoga retreat day in February https://www.kitespirit.co.uk/
Or if you’d prefer to do something online, I can also recommend ‘Yoga with Adrienne’ on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/yogawithadriene who offers a range of options with sessions based on time, body part, mood and activity.
Both are great options for exploring the benefits of stretching to your physical and mental wellbeing.
Hopefully, this will have given you a brief overview of the importance and benefits of different types of stretching and a couple of starting points, should you want to incorporate stretching into your routine more regularly. Happy pretzeling!