How many of us continue to tell ourselves, “I need to /should stretch more”?
Many think stretching is bending your head to your knees, or touching your fingers to the floor no matter how your body is contoured to do it.
My favourite one, the bounce stretching! Yikes, don’t do it man! Imagine an elastic band, bounce on that a few times and see what happens? It breaks!
You may not be an athlete, feeling tight or feeling contracted through the muscles, but in everyday life we create habits that shorten and restrict movement to our bodies. Our muscles can become stuck in a cycle of incorrect use or habitual motions and hold stress and tightness, so a good stretch for a few minutes each day can provide relief and relaxation to our muscles. This gently works and coaxes the muscle and oxygenates and re-energises muscles out of daily habitual use. Our breath and focus can be a great tools in this process. Stretching correctly is important and essential to keep the body balanced.
How to stretch properly
Experiment 1: Let’s use the elastic band theory again, hold the elastic at the ends and start to pull (both ends) until tight, now pull a little bit more and you will see the band start to stretch in the centre under the tension of being pulled in both directions.
Experiment 2: Using the elastic band again, pull only on one side and allow the opposite hand to move with the pull of the band i.e. travelling the same way. You will see the band does not get stretched as one hand is following the other and not working in opposition.
So, what does an elastic band have to do with your muscles?
Picture the muscle you are trying to stretch is the elastic band and if you are not focusing on pulling the points of insertion away from each other then you are not really stretching the bulk of the muscle, therefore wondering why you don’t get any more flexible.
If you have the use of a Pilates Reformer, this is a great way to stretch with some resistance, but in a controlled way.
It doesn’t matter how flexible you are, stretching works the same for everyone, either stretch correctly and improve flexibility or be frustrated with your lack of flexibility.
You do not need to stretch for hours a day but I would suggest a couple of minutes every day will bring results. Consistency is the key.
You can stretch anywhere, all the beaches of the Sunshine Coast have great facilities set up for exercise and stretching take advantage of these spots. Find a park bench that is a good height for you perfect ones along the ridge at Mooloolaba and Alex Headlands so you can also take a moment to re energise with the beautiful surrounding and stretch calmly.
I look forward to seeing all the stretching!