Stretching has seriously become part of my everyday life. I have somehow even incorporated it in my basic home routines. You can find me doing shoulder stretches if I’m sitting on the couch, or I will even have my leg extended on the counter while talking on the phone or texting. This has not only helped with my yoga practice, it has also made a world of difference in my health and life so I wanted to highlight the direct benefits I have experienced since I started.
I will, as always, add my disclaimer that I am not a certified yoga, fitness, life, health or stretching couch…so take it or leave it!
Just take it… 🙂
My anxiety levels have decreased by 85%: Ok, so I have not actually measured this, nor would I even know how to but that stat is a great opener, right?! But seriously, if someone were to ask me to rate my progress in that area, I would surely go with an 85% improvement in overall stress levels. I used to stress over the most insignificant and menial matters and while my job does bring with it a ton of stress, I have always just been an over-thinker and a worrier.
So how did stretching help with this, you ask? The thing is, all stress begins in our minds. These thoughts, which are energy, manifest themselves in different forms, and we each project that energy in different methods. Anything from just being cranky to headaches and back pains. That is because the energy is accumulating and tightening up in different areas in our bodies, leading to pain, tension and at times, more serious health complications if not addressed. By stretching, you are allowing blood to circulate and the energy to flow and release.
Think of it this way, scientific technicalities aside, imagine a river flowing. Little by little you throw rocks in one section and they begin to pile up, over time the water flows with less ease and eventually not at all. Not only has the river stopped flowing, it now has to find other outlets to release the water otherwise it overflows, which it will eventually. The human body is much like this river. The more we ignore the stress signals and continue to pile it on, the less our bodies will have the ability to find outlets to release the energy and we eventually reach our breaking point.
I’m much more in tune with my body: When you stretch, and I mean really stretch (like, set aside some time to focus on just that) you begin to notice little trigger points or ways your body is informing you which other areas need attention (I talk about this a little bit in my other stretching post here). So, if you lean over to touch your toes, for example, and just hang there allowing gravity to pull you down, you can begin to observe the different muscles in your hamstrings, hips, back and even shoulders and notice how they start to open up. You start to realize how your leg can sometimes hurt as a result of a tight muscle in your back for example…it’s all connected. The human body just amazes me sometimes!
No more Migraines: I used to suffer from Migraines. I would get at least 2 a year and they would render me useless. I would have to shut myself off in a dark room for at least a day, and the after pain would linger for an additional 24-48 hours. It was bad! Since I started yoga and stretching, I haven’t had one since. If you have any experience with these headaches, you know how painful and debilitating they are and since not much is known about their causes, doctors just throw medications at you as the only viable solution. I do not really do pills, so that was never an option, so I lived with them…until now. For the same reasons I mentioned above, my migraines were just a way of my body reaching its breaking point.
No more headaches: Huge difference from migraines and I suffered from these as well. Almost every day I would come home with a headache, these were basically stress headaches from my day (or those little rocks in my river analogy). They were not half as painful as a migraine but still annoying enough to have me out for about an hour. But now, I seriously do not remember the last time I had a “regular” headache…other than hangovers, but those don’t count…
No more Ganglion Cyst: This cyst is a noncancerous lump that normally grow on tendons or joints of the wrist and hand. I had a large, painful one on my left wrist. After about a month of stretching my arms and wrists, it was completely gone. No trace of it whatsoever…you can read more here on what stretches helped with this one in particular.
No more annoying back and shoulder pain: Whether you sit or stand all day, you are putting pressure in certain areas of your body. That pressure creates tension that turns into pain. It can be just the nagging lower back pain, or shoulder and neck pain. Nonetheless, it’s a pain and you shouldn’t have to put up with it. Stretching releases that tension and gets the blood to circulate in those areas which relieve the pain.
Increased Energy Levels: I’m not exactly bouncing off the walls here, but, again with the blood circulation, this allows you to be more awake and you feel more invigorated after a stretch. Movement is always a great medicine.
I try not to impose my lifestyle on anyone, and workout routines are most definitely a personal choice for your body and personality. But I do believe stretching is essential to your health and something I always promote. I highly encourage you all to fit in a 30-45 minute stretch each day. You will notice the difference after a week, I promise!