8 Reasons to Love Stretching

January 17, 2018  by Dr. Suki Munsell

Learn to Love Stretching

“I feel so good after I stretch,” my clients have told me over the years. “But I just don’t stop and do it. I wish I stretched more.”

If this sounds like you, or if you don’t love stretching, this blog might help you build your stretching habit. Stretching is the next best thing to taking a nap. 

Heed Nature’s Call 
As a toddler, you were trained to heed natures’ calls – those inner sensations of a hungry tummy, an active bladder, or the need for sleep. Answer Mother Nature’s call to stretch. Picture your body like a puppy sitting by the door with a leash in its mouth just hoping you’ll get the message. Like the puppy, your body wants some relief, to get out of the stuffy house (your tight body and thinking) and play. If you find yourself thinking, “I should stop and stretch,” then do so. You will empower your next moment. Here’s why.

Reclaim your Power
Stretching, like any exercise consciously performed, returns the locus of power from other back to self. You stop reacting – for a moment, perhaps for hours – to outside forces, be it the chair you’re sitting in, or the deadline at work, the demands of others, or the politics of the moment. You anchor yourself in the here and now – in the power of the present. Stretching is a potent act to reclaim the helm of your ship.

Benefit #7

Sleep is deeper
at night when
you are relaxed.

You return to your self by saying “no” and by saying “yes.” You say “no” to physical, emotional, and postural stress. You say “yes” to being in the flow state of creative life force where time and tensions dissolve.

Your brain and body shift from fight or flight to the relaxation response. You become flooded with pleasurable endorphins.  With each repetition, you reconnect your physical, moral and spiritual centers. Over time, you raise your self-confidence and build self-efficacy  – the power to achieve an intended result. You notice greater mental resilience to recover more quickly from difficulties. You raise your fighting spirit.

Magnify your Results
Read more of the benefits below. To magnify your results imagine how each benefit feels inside you. This helps you create your stretching habit, the neural connections between actions and results that get stronger each time you stretch.

Eight Reasons to Love Stretching

Eight benefits of cultivating a regular stretching practice:

  1. Lung capacity increases as you fill the chambers of your lungs fully –  bottom to top, front to back, side to side.
  2. Respiratory and cardiovascular systems strengthen. They pump increased blood and nutrient flow to the cells of your brain, internal organs, bones, joints and muscles.
  3. Mental focus sharpens and fatigue drains away.
  4. Pain from stagnation dissolves. You can feel the chemical traces dissipating.
  5. Energy flow increases. Tight muscles are weak muscles. As energy circulation improves and muscular compensation decreases, joints become more flexible and the risk of injury diminishes.
  6. Posture improves when muscular recruitment rebalances. With better alignment, athletic performance improves.
  7. Sleep is deeper at night when you are relaxed. You obtain greater immune benefits from the cascade of glandular secretions. In time, sleep debt erases.
  8. You awake recharged, mentally engaged, and not needing stimulants to prod you into action.
 

Ten Reasons to Love Dynamic Stretching

Ten more benefits result from Dynamic Stretching:

  1. Learn a comprehensive set of trailside stretches, an alphabet of movements that incorporates your five primary spinal positions, five sets of leg muscles, and increases range in your shoulders, hips and ankles.
  2. Blend the benefits of two forms of stretching: dynamic – how to be active without pushing, and passive – how to use your body weight.
  3. Use this quick and effective series anytime, anywhere without props.
  4. Improve posture and gait noticeably after Stretching Dynamically.
  5. Increase somatic self-sensing as if seeing within yourself. Even with your eyes open, your inner vision grows stronger.
  6. Improve body discrimination so you notice ineffective habits cropping up. Make healthier choices to avoid consequences.
  7. Build muscle memory with each repetition. Re-balance your muscular skeletal system more quickly and maintain alignment longer.
  8. Relax more deeply as you let go physically and emotionally.
  9. Enjoy greater teamwork with your inner healer. You are listening to your body’s needs and respecting its choices.
  10. Increase motivation to exercise by enjoying stretching and feeling successful.

 

Take a Stretch Break

Build your stretching habit. Let your body lead you in the stretches it needs right now, not what you think you need, but what feels good.  A good way to begin is with an exhale, fully…fully…fully…fully, and let go. Pause. Wait for your body to inhale, fully…fully…fully…fully. Notice the pause. Repeat the exhale, fully…fully…fully…fully. Wait for the inhale. Repeat the cycle several times until you notice the changes described above. Notice how breathing fully fills you with energy. You regain positivity, balance, and equanimity. 

When you finish picture yourself in the future replenishing your energies through stretching. It’s so easy and feels so good. Make it a great year.

~ Dr. Suki