How a little Stretching can improve Posture, Flexibility & Well Being.
Make no mistake this is a grey area and you will find articles all over the internet for and against stretching for varying reasons. All of which seem valid.
I can only impart my personal opinion and experience the rest is up to you.
For me it is simple with many lifestyles keeping our bodies seated and immobile for large parts of the day it can only be a good thing to move our bodies in different directions when the opportunity arrises.
I am not a fan of static long held stretches that force the body to hold a very uncomfortable position, if not painful, for a great length of time. This will only make the muscles more likely to tense up after.
The benefits of keeping muscles lengthened however are plenty: Balance, finding an equal posture on both sides of the body reduces the risk of injury and general postural discomfort.Mobility is improved.The body won't ache so much after exercise, my clients often comment during Pilates that although they know they are working the muscle groups hard they don't ache the next day.Well Being, without doubt you will feel better after mentally and physically. You stand a little taller, shoulders a little wider and removed some of that tension from the day.
Dynamic stretching which incorporates gentle movement and breath into the stretch can feel amazing and increase mobility in the joints.
Pilates is fantastic for this because there a so many exercises that will be lengthened but at the same time stretching an apposing muscle group. Take the Roll up a core exercise that also stretches down the back line of the body, through the lumbar spine, buttocks and hamstrings, but this is never held we keep the movement and breath throughout.
When I do include a stretch we tend to find the edge, just before the point of extreme discomfort and never into pain. Then we breathe into that area imagine it filling with air, releasing a little and perhaps mobilising a little more. Never holding completely still.
I myself will do 5-10 minuets of easy dynamic stretching a day, Yoga suits me well for this as poses are very rarely held for long periods of time and much like Pilates it focuses on building strength if done correctly.I do not tend to do much stretching prior to exercise rather choosing a warm up that moves my body in all directions, opens the hips, shoulders and mobilises the spine ready for action!
What's that saying 'I bend so I do not break'.