Ever notice that your body literally takes on the language of stress? We talk in terms of others and ourselves as being inflexible, rigid, and hard. We use terms like we’re hard pressed, or she’s straight laced, he’s not going to bend or move. Add this mental body of thoughts to our day to day living of chronic repetitive over use, unresolved old injury, chronic illness or medication use and you have the making of a physical body that is stiff, sore, tired, and easily injured. Continued stress mental or physical, positive or negative creates tension in the body. Muscles become tighter and tighter and eventually other things begin to go wrong.

Yogis have known for centuries that the key to good health is flexibility and stretching. The soft flowing exercises known as hatha yoga and tai chi were designed to free the body as well as the mind of stress and stiffness. Chiropractors as well know the key to youth and good health is a flexible spine. Besides adjustments they may suggest gentle stretching exercises to improve flexibility. Trained massage therapists work with the soft tissue, stretching to gain length and flexibility in the muscles, tendons and ligaments. Different methods, yet they all work to bring higher levels of wellness.

If you have embarked upon a new exercise program be sure to include some stretching techniques as part of your warm up. Warming up and stretching increases the delivery of nutrients to the muscles creating an oxygen rich environment. The more oxygen available, the more vital and healthy we become. A lack of oxygen causes spasm and pain and the feeling of tight overworked muscles sometimes for days.

While flexibility is the key to all movement, balanced physical fitness requires a blending of three basic components- flexibility, aerobic conditioning and strength training. Equally important is the balance of nutrition, stress management, rest work and play.

The Benefits of Stretching & Flexibility Include:

1. Increased range of motion for increased ease in daily living

2. Relieves muscle-joint soreness by increasing circulation

3. Promotes relaxation and reduces physical/emotional stress

4. Increases muscle/tendon elasticity, which helps prevent injury/re-injury

5. Improves musculotendinous contractility, thus increasing strength potential and endurance

Your physical therapist, massage therapist, chiropractor, or exercise trainer can help develop a program of stretching for you that will help increase your flexibility. It may take continued persistent stretching to increase your flexibility, but the rewards are many including an increased quality of living. Till next time, Rebecca.