Stretch Secrets - Shhhh…

stretching secretsWe all share a modern-day problem, inflexibility. Too much sitting, driving, computers, meetings and stress, and at the end of the day we feel more like tin men than people.

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Back when I worked in a stressful job and had no idea how to stretch, I thought I was simply getting old. I was never a Gumby, and I felt that any time I took the sage advice to stretch more it seemed I created less flexibility and made the problem worse.

As I learned about massage and how to unlock the stretch response, I realized I had been going after flexibility like Grant took Richmond, and with about as much success.

Basically, there are secrets to make stretching work, and one has to learn and practice them. I’ll give the basic guidelines here, but I have to say if you are as hard-headed and linear as I was, you need a guide.

That’s why when you come in for a massage, I’ll offer to spend some time stretching you and showing you how to get good results from stretches when you are not on the massage table.

Secret Number 1: Slow and Easy
Our muscles and joints have sensors that track movement and speed. Try to stretch too far and too fast, these sensors will actually order the muscles to lock down and tighten.

Secret Number 2: No pain.
Too far and too fast also triggers a pain message.

The nervous system interprets that as a threat and makes muscles shorten even more.

Secret Number 3: Breathe.
Lots of people hold their breath during the whole stretch, blocking the stretch response completely. When we do breathe, the temptation is to huff and puff, over-using lots of neck and back muscles and defeating the stretch response.

Secret Number 4: Most of us are so focused on achieving immediate results we acknowledge and then ignore rules Number 1, 2 and 3.

There are a number of fancy names for different styles of stretching, such as passive, active, dynamic, range of motion, contraction-relaxation and a few more. I mention these to explain why I like to find the ways that works best for each person. If you can’t stretch at all, or you seem to be stuck at a stretch level that never changes, it’s time to learn how to stretch.

Start with a massage. I will help you with the rest.

- Sue

 
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