Stretch – for a more flexible you

Stretch – for a more flexible you

Monday, 30 May 2011 12:25

Here are a few key stretching tips for keeping your muscles & joints flexible & free.

1. Stretch ‘After’ Exercise / Activity:

When aiming to increase your suppleness/flexibility, it’s always best to do so at the end of some exercise or activity session. This is when your body temperature is higher and muscles etc are naturally able to stretch more comfortably and it is actually an important part of a good cool-down anyway – to reduce post-exercise muscle tightening & waste products etc.

* Note: Even in modern exercise-science, the shift is away from doing prolonged stretching pre-exercise.

Research on injury-prevention (the main reasoning behind stretching), suggests stretching without first warming the body tissues up/increasing circulation etc is negligible at best. Generally the best warm-up consists of a very gradually increase in intensity of the activity you are undertaking, e.g. if jogging – start off walking, gradually increase speed over 4-5 minutes and then begin jogging etc.

* If you want to stretch beforehand (which is still good, especially if you will be engaging specific muscles or doing high-intensity movements), it is best to do them after this warm-up stage.

2. Don’t Overstretch – Less is More:

The biggest mistake people make re; stretching is ‘stretching too hard’. By stretching a muscle beyond it’s ‘comfortable’ limit, it actually resists…it contracts as a safety mechanism against injuring itself. The ideal way to stretch is to simply take the muscle to its ‘comfortable limit’ – we love ‘No Pain No Gain’ but remember that pain is nature’s feedback that something is Wrong! – then stretch a ‘little’ further until the first sense of ‘contraction’ is felt. Hold the stretch there (while doing Point 3. below) for as long as is comfortable or until the muscle relaxes and ‘naturally’ increases its range.

3. Stretching should be ‘Mind’ & Body – Use the Power of your Attention & Breathing:

By puttting your mind’s attention on the muscle(s) you are stretching, you can significantly improve your flexibility. By really ‘feeling’ the stretch and focusing your attention on the ‘tight’ spots, you will literally dissolve the tension that is within the muscles. And don’t forget to BREATHE – Breathe slowly & deeply while stretching to help keep your whole body more relaxed – combined with your attention, you will dissolve any tension creating tightness and naturally & spontaneously your muscles/joints will become more supple & free.

Mark Bunn

Mark Bunn – is a leading natural health researcher specialising in Ayurvedic medicine, author of the three-time best-selling ‘Ancient Wisdom for Modern Health‘ and one of Australasia's most popular health and performance speakers.  Mark is also CEO of David Lynch Foundation Australia.