Stretching.

We have been stretching out our bodies since we were in the womb.  Some of us stretch when we first get out of bed.  Others like to stretch in their car while sitting in traffic.  You may have seen those people, they reach real far as if they’re trying to pull a move on their passenger, but really they’re just stretching out their arm as far as  they can across the seat next to them.  I’m one of those people.  I sometimes also like to stretch while standing in line at the grocery store.  I stand one-legged like a flamingo and bend my knee out in “tree pose” and freak people out when they hear the pop that sometimes happens in my hips as I push my leg further to a perfect angle.

Tree Pose in yoga

Stretching helps our muscles stay flexible and can be a major aide in relieving tension that builds up around our bodies.  This week I have been trying to stretch more often as I’ve been working out extra hard.  The miles I have walked on mountains and the Golden Gate bridge this week, plus my usual tennis/Pilates/yoga has left my body incredibly tired and desperately needing a massage.  My stretching can only do so much!

However, it’s helped a great deal.  My left foot has been extra sore this week, I imagine because of the running I did on the bridge and prancing around in  tennis.  I’ve been able to find some relief though when I take the time to apply some light pressure to the front of my foot.  An athletically wonderful babysitting client I have once taught me how to push your the front part of you foot up against a step, so your toes stand up against the rising step. This one move once relieved a horrible “charlie horse” pain I had gotten from rising out of bed too quickly a few hours before.

I also remember the first time I ever felt one of the hidden muscles deep within my thighs stretch out.  It was my first yoga class about two years ago.  My teacher had us lie on our backs with our legs bent and feet near our bottoms.  We then were instructed to cross one leg over the other knee and lift up the uncrossed leg upward.  Next we wrapped our hands below our lifted knee and lightly pulled forward, creating this deep but magical stretch deep within our thighs, hamstrings, and bottoms.  After we spent about fifteen seconds on this stretch, my teacher had us lay our legs back on the ground.

“Do you feel a difference between your left side and right side?”, she said.

The hidden muscle deep within my upper thigh and left buttock seemed to make my left side lie closer to the ground, feeling more relaxed and incredibly better.  After we did our right side, I knew I would be hooked to deep stretching forever.  I never even knew that I had this magical muscle that could be stretched in such a glorious way that it would relieve SO much of the tension I am constantly carrying around with me.  I think people who spend a lot of time in the same position every day, whether it be standing or sitting, can be a lot more prone to putting strain on their constantly used muscles.

Deep stretch for that magical muscle within!

As much as I thought I knew about stretching, I still have plenty to learn!  While on my hike this weekend with my girl friends, my buddy Kristin pointed out the important of “dynamic stretching” before you go for stretches referred to as “static stretching”.   At first I didn’t quite understand what she meant because I figured any kind of stretching was good kind of stretching.  But then Kristin explained how it’s beneficial to get the muscles warmed up before workouts by doing stretches where you’re rotating your muscles too, like making little baby circles with your arms.  The definition I found explains it well.  ” Dynamic stretching involves moving parts of your body and gradually increasing reach, speed of movement, or both.”  It allows time for the muscles to slowly be able to stretch to their full potential.  Probably how I’m able to reach further past my toes in Pilates at the end of class, once I’m warmed up.

“Static stretching” consists of stretching a muscle (or group of muscles) to its farthest point and then maintaining or holding that position.  This kind of stretch is what we do when we’re told to “touch our toes and hold it.”  Sure, after that initial burn wears off our muscles might feel great, but it is more likely to provide an injury if the muscle isn’t warmed up yet.  Think about what happens when we “pull a muscle.”  It typically happens because of one big movement that we happened to overextend in a very awful way, right?

How many of you stretch during your day?  Do you only stretch when about to work out?  Maybe after you work out?  Tell me your stretching mannerism, I am interested in hearing it!

Oh, I’m up a pound this week.  BOOO.  But I bet it’s MUSCLE because I’m feeling stronger than ever before!

 

Lots of love,

AprilSignatur

 

 


One thought on “Stretching.

  1. I stretch all the time…sitting, standing, wherever. Haha. I also do the one-legged thing and get funny looks. *high five!*

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