Bending Your Body to Your Will
How does your body feel? Whens the last time you stretched? I mean seriously stretched- not the dadbod yawn/stretch mostly observed in people who wear robes WAY too much. Like Master of the Modern Yoga Tirumalai Krishnamacharya
showing the perfect downward dog Stretch. This week we dive into how stretching doesn't just affect our physical realm, but why doing so positively impacts our mental domain.How does being flexible benefit you? Mentally
, Stretching ramps up receptors or receivers in the nervous system that slow the production of stress hormones like cortisol. (High levels of cortisol can cause extreme fatigue that sleep cannot lessen.) By stretching you improve blood flow through your muscles which means improved cognitive functions throughout your entire day.Physically
stretching enhances stability, flexibility, range of motion, and strength (more of a endurance than powerful in terms of overall strength.) Muscles that lack flexibility put a greater burden on a set muscle versus group due to the bodies inability to activate said muscles conjointly, which may then lead to injury.What happens to the body over time without stretching?
Harvard Medical School published an article about stretching that states "Without stretching, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage." That tight and shortening Harvard is talking about is that same feeling you get when you first wake up stiff. Now this may even impact those who stretch often, but the point is that limiting stretching is a main factor why so many older adults (30+) run into all sorts of random injuries and hamstring pulls because they haven't kept their body properly stretched. It would be like having Windows 95 software, but expecting windows 10 functions without updating the software. You have to constantly update or stretch.
Best time to stretch? Studies have found that the best time to stretch is after you out a beating on your body or after a work out. These are considered cool down stretches and have hight payoffs to ensure your body stays limber. Before work outs, stretch know as dynamic warm ups which focus on blood flow, heating up your muscles and preparing your body for high intensity is best suited versus normal stretches.
The impacts of stretching far surpass just your physical needs. After stretching, you will find yourself able to rethink problems and decisions that may have been clouding your judgment earlier due to poor blood circulation. Stretching can refocus and center yourself in the present allowing for you to focus on your task at hand and less on past issues. This often is know as a cool little jazzy name of meditation 🧘♀️ 🧘♂️ The physical aspects are equally as important and afford you the ability to persistently chisel away at your body to build that form you've always been looking for. Bottom line, stretching can provide you a fast lane to a next level you without ever having to take a quiz or leave the comfort of your home.