This post was written by Ryan Seitz, Registered Massage Therapist and Owner at Spruce Body Lab.
Flexibility Is Fitness
As a practicing RMT of eleven years, I am constantly seeing clients with chronic pain or mobility issues due to tightness and soreness in their muscles. The majority of this discomfort stems from the lack of regular exercise and stress. Since none of us are getting any younger, it is important to maintain a certain level of fitness to remain happy and healthy.
Did you know that losing weight was the top resolution for 2014? And being fit and healthy was the 5th. Now with 2014 well underway, most of us have thrown out our Fitness Resolutions with the dried out Christmas tree. But to the few of you still making that conscious effort to live a better, healthier life, I applaud your determination. For those of you like me, who have been getting reacquainted with their couch, I wanted to share with you some of the incredible benefits you get from Flexibility Fitness. And for those of you reading this from the treadmill, adding stretching to your routine can be extremely beneficial to reaching your fitness goals.
Static Stretching vs. Dynamic Stretching
There are two types of stretching that we can do. The first is Static Stretching. This is also known as the stretch and hold method. With this type of stretching, it is recommend that the stretch is held for at least 40 seconds and that a deep breath or two are taken to help calm the central nervous system. Static stretching is ideal for lengthening your muscles and increasing flexibility. This type of stretching prior to exercise can increase the risk of injury, so it is recommended to use static stretching after your workout, when your muscles are still warm.
The second type of stretching is knows as Dynamic Stretching. This type of stretch involves movement of your body to loosen the muscles. For example, arms circles or trunk rotations. Dynamic stretching has become the standard for pre-activity warm-ups, as it activates your muscles, increases your range of motion, and it improves body awareness.
|Static Stretching||Dynamic Stretching|
The Benefits Are Limitless
Improved cardiovascular circulation is a proven benefit of stretching. An increase of blood flow and supply of nutrients to muscles and connective tissue help to reduce muscle soreness after working out. This, in turn, will aid in expanding the range of motion in your joints. Increased range of motion is key to improving your balance. Better balance means that we are less susceptible to falls resulting in injury.
Another area that regular stretching can help is with stress and anxiety levels. Stress is know to be a cause, as well as a factor, of disease and imbalance. Flexibility fitness helps to reduce anxiety levels and the risks associated with it, in particular with regard to tense muscles. This is due to the fact that stretching is a form of exercise. It has the same endorphin boosting effects as regular exercise that improve your mood and how you feel overall. Exercise works to reduce cortisol, which is the hormone that causes stress.
Stretching has physical benefits as well. As the number of Canadians with lower back pain continues to grow, regular stretching can help to alleviate the pain. Regular stretching helps to strengthen the lower back muscles and reduce the pain. Another excellent way to help lessen back pain is to stretch the other muscles connected to your pelvis. Many of these muscles (quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors) that are connected to your pelvis contribute to your posture, stretching these muscles has the ability to greatly reduce lower back discomfort.
Regardless of your fitness level, Stretching should be a part of your daily routine. Stretching in combination with regular exercise, massage therapy and other complimentary care such as Infrared Sauna sessions can help prevent injury, increase your flexibility, alleviate stress and pain and provide for the ability to live a more comfortable life.
How often do you stretch? What stretches do you enjoy? Share Your thoughts in the comments below!