Weekly Wellness Word: Stretch
Monthly Theme: Moving
This week’s word is Stretch
There is an American tradition nearly as old as baseball itself. It is the 7th inning stretch. It is a stolen moment about two thirds the way through a baseball game when fans are given permission to stand up, move, stretch muscles stiff from sitting in one place, reach to the sky and not have to worry about blocking the vision of the person behind them. Everyone breaks out into the song Take Me Out to the Ball Game and many people move their arms and bodies in traditional or creative movement to the beat of the song. Some people ring bells or swing t-shirts, towels or streamers in circles. Others might clap, wave their hands or sway back and forth with their arms around one another. The seriousness of the game is set aside for a minute to allow for a snippet of frivolity.
Sitting still for hours on end is hard on the body. Trust me, I've been doing it for 25 years and am suffering the consequences of decades of bad habits. Some of my muscles are contractured (shortened) and I can no longer extend them to their fully released position. Some of my muscles are as hard as rocks most of the time. Most of the muscles in my neck and shoulders get stiff within a couple hours of working at the computer.
A few years ago I got tired of the pain and decided to make some changes. I began to pay attention to the pain in my body and actually try to respond accordingly. Thankfully, I had access to some health professionals who helped me learn some stretches that help a bunch. I have attached a couple of those sheets to this email in case you might find them helpful too. Now I try, probably not as hard as I should, to stretch every day. My neck, back, arms, hands, hips and legs. It helps, but the road to limber muscles still stretches out for the foreseeable future. As long as it's a road towards pain relief, I can live with that.
This week, try and listen to any pain or tension in your body that may be telling you that you need to stretch out a bit. Maybe even take a few minutes in the morning before sitting down at your computer to stretch and warm up your muscles that you will be pummeling with repeititve movement throughout the day. Take a few deep breaths down to your core to oxygenate your tissues. Drink plenty of water to flush the toxins out of your muscles which are the chief cause of soreness. Give some of these ideas a whirl and see what happens.
Quote of the Week
Stretch Yourself by John W. Travis, MD, & Regina Sara Ryan
"One of the simplest and most effective ways to release tension and energize yourself is to take time out for a good stretch. You can stretch in almost any position, and, in fact, a good stretch before you get out of bed in the morning is a fine way to start the day. Developing the habit of stretching frequently throughout the day will make a big difference in how you feel.
Stretch yourself, right now.
Now take a deep, full breath, and stretch again in a different way than you did the first time.
Most people claim that stretching feels good. It helps release muscle tension almost immediately, which results in an overall sense of relaxation. As it breaks up energy blockages in the body, stretching allows for better circulation. It improves your range of motion, too. As you ease into a stretch, you literally reach farther. Stretching is also a way to increase self-awareness. Focusing on how different body parts feel when they are being stretched increases your power of concentration and heightens your awareness of internal feedback. With growing self-awareness comes a greater sense of self-control. The more you honor your body, the more you listen to what it wants and needs, the more you will appreciate it. And this just naturally blossoms into greater self-esteem.
When you stretch, don’t make jerky, quick, or bouncing movements. Instead, ease into your stretches in a smooth, relaxed way and hold the stretched posture externally while you internally release the muscles. If you feel any pain, stop. Stretching that causes pain can lead to serious injury if muscle tissues lose elasticity and tear. ‘No pain, no gain’ should be understood metaphorically, not literally, where stretching is concerned. Breathe consciously while stretching and imagine that you are actually breathing into the parts of the body being stretched.
Feeling tense and depleted at the end of a day doesn’t have to be the norm. You can use stretching exercises throughout the day, before and after every activity you perform, as a way of releasing stress and of getting back in touch with yourself."
The next time you start feeling tight in your neck and shoulders from extensive computer work, try out some of the stretches described in the link below.
For further stretching ideas, check out the stretching exercises described in these links below from Healthy.net.
Have a GREAT week!