Let's talk about stretch, baby

Dec 13, 2022

Yesterday was my first Super Stretch Sunday in quite a while. SSS is something I started with a good friend of mine a couple of years ago. We get together for an epic afternoon stretching that involves much groaning, moaning, a fair amount of chit chat, and quite often me getting my back cracked – note: my friend is a highly skilled chiropractor not some wild card who just loves cracking spines! 

Rolling about in the agony/ecstasy rollercoaster that is Super Stretch Sunday, I was thinking about how undervalued the power of stretching truly is. As my body ages I’m more and more aware of just how much it needs to stretch - it’s no longer about health and fitness, it’s preservation! 

I’ve put together 6 reasons you should have your own Super Stretch Sunday - or any other day of the week that takes your fancy! If you happen to have your own chiropractor for company, even better.

It makes you happy

There are frequent moments during Super Stretch Sunday when I’m far from happy…feeling my way into a particularly challenging stretch can be naas-teeeee…

And yet, stretching is a very light form of exercise which actually promotes the production of endorphins. Exercising causes your brain to increase its production of certain neuro-chemicals such as serotonin, a chemical which helps produce feelings of joy, happiness, and elation. Not only does serotonin make you happier but it can also help you deal with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

Stretching is meditation

Stretching is not something to be rushed. The greatest benefits come from relaxing and softening into the stretch and holding for a time. When you slow down, your body and your mind has time to both rest and recharge. A relaxed body leads to a more relaxed mind, able to tune out the noise of the outside world and release mental chatter. A more flexible body is also able to sit comfortably for longer periods enhancing and lengthening meditation practice. 

Although yoga has evolved through the years with greater emphasis on physical fitness it’s worth noting that meditation and stretching have been connected since yoga began. Originally asana practice was not about building big biceps or having great abs but was actually a system of stretches designed to provide the necessary physical and mental preparation needed for meditation.

Take a stress break

If you're totally spent by mid-afternoon, a stretch break will invigorate you in less time than it takes for your local barista to whip up your usual extra shot espresso. Stretching allows for an increased blood and nutrient flow throughout the body - including your brain, so it will not only leave you feeling refreshed, but also your energy levels will be increased resulting in a sense of invigoration.

Improve your posture

Poor posture develops for a number of reasons but a major contributor in the modern world is damage done by sitting and slouching. Poor posture weakens muscles where they should be strong and vice-versa; the result being anything from niggling aches to chronic pain. 

That’s where yoga comes in. Gently stressing and strengthening specific muscle groups encourages proper alignment and proper alignment, in turn reduces those pesky pains.

Better Balance

Can you believe stretching can improve your ability to balance? How cool is that! It does this by enhancing fine muscle coordination and increasing the reaction time of the proprioceptors, sensory receptors which receive stimuli from within the body, especially relating to position and movement.

A study tested 42 college students to see whether stretching would impact how long they could stay on a contraption called a stabilometer (yes, it's really a thing!) The students who stretched for 30 minutes beforehand were able to balance longer than those who sat quietly before they hopped aboard.

Stretching relieves bloating

Whether it’s caused by eating a hefty meal or linked to hormone changes, bloating can leave you feeling sluggish and tired, making it difficult to want to move your body.

Too much sitting leads to tightness in the hips, tilting your pelvis, pressing it against your digestive organs. When you’re bloated the back and core muscles feel tight because your internal organs are expanding. This combination is what makes bloating so uncomfortable.

Stretching opens your hips so you can relieve the pressure on the pelvis and relaxes the tight muscles in your back.

Stretching also increases your rate of digestion because it improves circulation throughout your body, meaning that you’ll become less bloated more quickly if you stretch.

Yoga stretches are particularly effective at combating stress-induced bloating and hormone flux because it’s soothing and slow, switching your nervous system into a more relaxed state

Try these simple yoga stretches for bloating.

Simple stretches go a long way in preventing injury and improving your mental health. A few minutes a day really can help keep the stress away.

Done in a safe, comfortable manner stretching increases your flexibility which continues to gradually improve over time. You’ll see and experience positive changes in your body shape, and even lose inches when you continue to expand your stretching practice.

Grab a stretch buddy and get flexi today.