Tight?….Sore?…Inflexible?….feel like a coiled spring and want to be stretched…..out?
There are significant benefits for your health that come from incorporating stretching into your everyday life. It can increase your flexibility, improve your posture, reduce stress and tension and increase vitality. Read on to find out more about the benefit of a good stretch, how to get started and how to stretch safely.
Improve posture: Through our everyday movement we can adopt habits and postural issues which can become ingrained and cause muscle imbalances. This can put extra strain and tension on our muscles and joints. Have you ever heard someone say, “All I did was bend down to do up my shoelaces…and my back went?…” This is often due to the habitual patterns of movement that have built up over the years. Some examples would be the way we sit, the way we stand leaning on one leg, walking 'flat footed', the way we sit at the computer.
There may be a movement or posture at work that happens most days that is creating an imbalance or dysfunction. Some of this imbalance and misalignment can be improved through awareness of posture and improving our everyday movements. However stretching can be very beneficial when it comes to correcting and maintaining supportive posture.
Lessen tension and stress: When we are stressed we often get tension within our muscles. Particularly you may notice this in the neck, lower back and shoulders or the stomach? Your muscles and connective tissue can tighten in response to emotional and physical stress.
Research has proven that within the first few seconds of experiencing a negative emotion, people automatically tense the muscles in their jaw and around the eyes and mouth. 
There is a direct link with our emotions and tension in the body. Releasing tension in the body through stretching can indirectly support our emotional state to balance and settle.
Improving the blood and lymphatic flow in the body: It is important that the body does not become sedentary. It is important to move and how we move matters. We do not have to push it or exhaust ourselves, but regular healthy physical activity such as stretching enhances the flow within the body's systems.  The flow in the lymphatic system is moved through movement of the body - particularly gentle steady, supportive movements such as exercise and stretching helps the flow of lymph fluid and reduces swelling. It also helps keep your joints flexible, strengthens your muscles and improves your posture. 
Reduce pain and injury: When we are stiff and tight we are more likely to strain or sprain our muscles our ligaments and increases pressure on our joints. This can cause injury to many different areas of the body. Stretching develops and encourages flexibility and so avoids potential injury. If injury occurs it can also support the healing and rehabilitation process and prevent repeat injuries.
Connect and Check in: Taking time out for you and connecting with your body is a healthy habit to develop. Connecting with your breath is one of the simplest ways of connecting more with your body. We frequently ask clients to be aware of how they are breathing when exercising. We talk about establishing a familiarity with their breath and how to use breath and body awareness to make exercise non exhaustive, steady and enjoyable.
Bringing an ongoing focus to your breathing and body during stretching establishes a quality of presence in the moment that is very supportive and settling. Bringing focus to your breathing and body offers you space to not overthink, it brings a moment of simplicity and connection to your day. These moments can be precious and very supportive and can bring a meditative quality to your exercise routine that is more rewarding and regenerating.
Flexibility: It is important for our general health that our connective tissue and muscles are flexible. It brings an ease to everyday movements, prevents exhaustion from imbalance and is a pension plan concerning our elder years and our general mobility. By the way it is never too late to incorporate exercise and stretching into our everyday routines! With care and adaption, there is an exercise or stretch for everyone that can be supportive and make a difference.
What's not to love? Stretching is free! You can stretch at home, on the beach, in the park, at a time that suits you. You are giving yourself a true gift of self-care. Stretching is an important tool and making it part of everyday life has great benefits for many areas of life…why not give it a go!*
Get in touch with the clinic and our physiotherapists or remedial massage therapist can support you with setting up and maintaining a programme that works for you.
We also run regular exercise classes to support our clients to make exercise part of their everyday habits.
Look out for:
Part 2: Stretching Safely
Part 3 Get Started With An Everyday Stretch Routine
*If you have any concerns about your physical health it is important to seek medical advice before undertaking a stretching routine.