(Shift) Stretching practices are on the rise for a reason: modern society has left millions of people craving better posture with less pain in their bodies.
As joyful and rewarding the thought was, I could never get motivated to stretch. I would exaggerate the negative; the possibility of straining a muscle, or not having enough time. Watching my dog stretching as he does every morning sparked my ‘eureka’ moment. If he was smart enough to commit, then so should I.
A few minutes of stretching helped me chart a new course
Recent studies have shown stretching can:
- Improve posture and performance
- Decrease risk of injuries
- Help joints move through their full range
- Enable muscles to work more effectively
- Increase blood flow to muscles (2, 3)
Stretching exercises I found beneficial:
The tatic wall combats tension caused by sitting in a vexed position. Scoot hips as close to a wall as possible and raise legs high against it. Have arms out to the sides of your lying back (45-degree angle, palms upwards) and feet hip-width distance apart. Pull feet back towards the body, flexing the toes and tightening front thighs. Hold for 4 minutes, keeping shoulders and neck relaxed.
The scalene stretch for front of neck. Sit up. Place the right hand on the left shoulder and apply gentle pressure. Rotate head to the left (45-degree angle) then tilt chin upwards. A stretch should be felt through the left front side of the neck. Hold for 20 seconds. Switch.
The supine pelvic floor stretch. Lying on back, keep knees bent and bring them towards the chest. Slowly extend knees to the side to stretch the inner groin. Relax pelvic floor and butt. Remain in this position for 5 to 10 breaths. Much attention is given to pelvic floor tightening, yet I found stretching exercises more beneficial. Having never given birth, plus having work occupations requiring sitting for long periods, I discovered stretching exercises were key to finding comfort in my body. Myofascial massage release can also relieve pelvic pain, along with stretching exercises that may relax trigger points in the pelvis, belly, perineum, buttocks, and hips.
Extended child’s pose. Touch both big toes together and sit on heels, separating knees about as wide as the hips. Bend forward from the hips and walk hands in front. With arms extended and palms down, come up onto the fingertips, relaxing the chest towards the floor. Hold for 30 seconds. Breathe restfully.
Immaculate results with perfect posture
I devoted just 10 minutes a day and in one month a lot of stagnation appeared to leave my body. I’m suffering less stiffness after awakening and have increased my range of motion. Less headaches are definitely apparent, and I feel less cold (a common complaint of mine). My overworked muscles felt less tense, more flexible, and I have even received compliments on my posture and how I’m now carrying myself. As an extra bonus, I have eased my mind, by incorporating some mindfulness techniques during the stretching.
I would encourage everyone not to minimize their bad posture. If the thought of stretching is a struggle for you, I invite you to stretch yourself, literally.
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