How many times have you stretched a part of your body so that your muscle is shaking and you are feeling tension and pain?
Have you ever found that your shoulders and body feel contracted and tight trying to hold you in a certain position?
This is how most people stretch. What they don’t realise is that this type of tension in stretching will bring muscle contraction and not muscle lengthening. So all the pulling and pushing that is done actually won’t improve flexibility.
How lovely would it be to work with your body and it’s natural function to stretch? How would it be, to really stretch to appreciate, honour and feel gorgeous in your body? Here are some simple tips:
Bev Carter's Top 10 Stretch Tips:
Take the time to purposefully stretch. Stretching can be seen to be just ‘that’ thing to do at the end of the session and often it is rushed or skipped altogether. Stretching only need take a few focused minutes and is an invaluable part of caring for your body.
Be conscious of what area you would like to stretch. This may sound obvious but do you really take the moment to stretch a particular muscle or do you simply throw your leg up on a bench? Be clear as to what muscle group you intend to stretch. For example many go to stretch their hamstrings (the muscle at the back of the thigh) and turn their leg out from the hip or curl their lower back. This then changes the stretch to other muscle groups rather than the intended one. Take a precious moment for you and feel into what is taking place in your body as you stretch.
Be gentle and supportive getting into and out of your stretch position.
Use a towel, dyna band, strap, chair, doorway etc to stretch different body parts. Bands and towels are great home equipment to stretch legs with out bringing tightness and stress into your upper body.
Feel into the area you’re stretching. You should feel a gentle lengthening with NO stress, tension, pain or shaking. If your do feel these things you are over-stretching and this will not support with increasing flexibility in the muscle.
Feel that your body and muscle can ‘surrender’ into the stretch – then you know you are working with the body and it’s natural ‘stretch reflex’.
Stay connected to your body and feel if the muscle ‘lets go’ after a little while. This is around 20-30 sec – yet you don’t need a stopwatch if you simply feel and connect to the muscles being stretched. If you feel the ‘let go’ or ‘surrender’ happen you can chose to gently increase the stretch a little or simply enjoy it as you are. If you don’t feel this ‘letting go’ please don’t panic, it may simply be because you may need to hold stretch longer or it may be that you are over-stretching and need to ease off the stretch a bit.
Maintain your posture, whether you’re sitting, standing or lying. Often people slump into a stretch. Bring a sense of being ‘tall and amazing’ to your posture so you can lengthen the muscles in a way that supports their true movement and function.
Feel the stillness of the muscle and body and stay with your gentle breath, this will support the ‘letting go or surrender’ in the muscle. The muscle loves to feel safe and supported so it can let go, if you’re over stretching and moving around all the time you will miss the stretch reflex.
Make stretching part of your daily rhythm to connect with your body. Take a moment to appreciate YOU and YOUR Body in these precious moments of stretching everyday. Make self-appreciation a part of your stretching routine.