In the early days of weight training and muscle building, little was discussed about the importance of stretching. This lack of awareness and eventually the downright ignoring of the importance of flexible muscles led to people becoming muscle-bound - the inability for muscles to express their full range of motion. In extreme cases, muscle-bound shoulders prohibited arms from rising above one's head. We're going to take a deeper look at they whys and the ways you can encourage and maintain healthy flexibility.
An Intelligent Body
The main benefit of frequent stretching is increased blood flow to the soft tissue and joints in which encourages the following benefits:
* Improved circulation
* More flexible muscles and joints which increases the ROM (range of motion) in the area
* Improved posture
* More effective workouts
* Less prone to injury
* Reduced muscular aches
* Better sleep and work life
* Overall better health and vitality
Your mind is the game changer
As a licensed massage therapist, I aim to educate clients on being mentally and physically aware of their body in everyday life. I remind them of how they are not machines which get rusty and replaced. Self-care is crucial in maintaining a healthy body for a lifetime. Frequent stretching is one of the ways you can take care of your body.
Before you roll out of bed or while you’re trying to fall asleep, start and end your day with a 10-20 min series of stretches. By leveraging your body using a band, your hand or a belt, you can stretch various areas of your body including your neck, upper/lower back, legs and glutes. Try 3 mins of passive stretching during busy work days to destress and get through the latest deadline.
Seek professional assistance
Stretching on your own is the best home-work you can do but when you need more, seek a licensed professional. Massage Therapists, Physical Therapists, Athletic Trainers, and Sports Doctors all have countless hours of training in kinesiology and anatomy of the body to know various ways of stretching every muscle group.
I regularly recommend Thai Massage as this massage modality offers a yoga-type of rhythmic assisted stretching and palm walking to manipulate and bring elasticity to muscles and joints. The best part is that all you have to do is breathe and relax; I stretch your body for you!
Aside from being active with a busy work life, it's essential to exercise your body and heart to keep up with life. I always recommend doing exercises that strengthen the core such as Pilates. Because Pilates offered a great blend of strengthening and lengthening the muscles, I've observed drastic improvements of the posture of some of my clients who practice Pilates on a consistent basis. Pilates helps articulate and keep the spine healthy and mobile too. Swimming and yoga are also great for strengthening core muscles. Whatever you choose, just keep moving and stretching!