Monday, February 27, 2012

Stretching the Body, Stretching the Mind

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I am incredibly blessed to share this guest post by Josh Humble. Josh's commitment to health and to supporting his friends has always impressed me, so I am honored to share his wisdom with you. (On a side note, I welcome guest posts. Please contact me if you'd like to share a post.)

Stretching the Body, Stretching the Mind

Disclaimer: This article is merely suggestive, and the advice given is not meant to cure or treat ailments, disorders, or serious medical problems. Please see a qualified doctor and/or certified personal trainer before implementing a stretching program.

by joshhumble 

We all know we should exercise, drink plenty of water, get proper rest, and refrain from sitting too long. However, many consider daily stretching essential, as well. From professional athletes and MMA fighters, to yogis and the elderly, planned daily stretches keeps one flexible and less injury-prone during everyday activity, and into old age. Stretching also combats stress and relieves muscular tension so common today.

An obstacle most beginners face in any fitness program is muscle and joint tightness. The long and short-term benefits of daily stretching, even for those least athletic, is rewarding. Despite our increasing lifespans, we become less mobile and pro-efficient with age. So along with proper diet, rest, and exercise, stretching helps prevent the gradual lifetime lockup, aliments, and the aches and pains associated with aging. While there are various kinds of stretching, I like to reserve a 10-20 minute session to close the day, SEPARATE from athletic activity, for static stretching. Static stretching DOES NOT replace dynamic stretching done before and after workout, but can be a good supplement to your goals. A few benefits include:

     increased range of motion and mobility
     potential stress relief and decreased physical tension
     increased circulation and better posture
     potential chronic pain relief

More than Simply Stretching
As relaxation is REQUIRED to make our stretches effective while avoiding injury, there can be a dual purpose to our static stretch sessions - finding thatalone time we complain of not having anymore. Doing nothing for a brief moment of the day is a timeless best practice for mental clarity. Instead of multitasking with a book or the iPad, our stretching session can be used to stretch the body AND the mind. Other than good form and being aware of our body’s senses, it’s best to think of nothing else in our session. It’s a mental refresh, and some use this time for spiritual practice, praying, or just a meditative mindset. Whatever you find in this, it’s YOUR time to do “nothing,” except recover and refresh.

Making It Yours
It’s VERY important to seek council from your doctor and a personal trainer before beginning, as stretching improperly can cause injury, or make a condition worse. As such, I’m not going to advise specific techniques. However, once you’ve established your direction, a few general tips:
  • Depending on your goals and abilities, you could begin with upper body stretches from the neck, down to the midsection (core) and arms, then down to the legs.
  • While pre-exercise dynamic stretches may be held for around 30 seconds, static stretching might be held for 1-2 minutes or longer, depending on your tension.
  • Just like cardio and weightlifting, stretches become easier over time. You should gently push your stretches further, little by little, until you’ve hit your maximum range of motion.
  • Don’t bounce. Relax and pay attention to your body.
In Conclusion
I find combining proper stretching with the clearing of the mind to be a brief, yet vital part of the day, and it’s quite missed if skipped. Once you make it “yours,” you may feel the same as well.


About Me, Josh Humble
Hello - I’m an interaction designer, social media strategist, and copy editor for TKO Graphix by day, and a practitioner of the Budo arts at night. I also photograph headshots independently for Indianapolis businesses. I occasionally write for TKOs Brandwire blog, and more frequently, my blog. Keeping fit and functional as a way of life is 100% passion and 100% necessity for me. I love learning and sharing with others, always looking to improve. Follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on LinkedIn.