If you come to my live classes you'll know that I am a strong advocate for a holistic approach to movement and I make sure that stretching is an integral part of every single session that we do.
I can't emphasise enough just how important it is to move and stretch, no matter what age you are. I've had boys and girls in their mid teens come to see me who are already stiff and inflexible. If they continue to do sport or even just lead a sedentary lifestyle and don't incorporate stretching into their routine they are setting themselves up for problems later in life.
Stretching helps to keep your muscles flexible, strong and healthy allowing you to maintain a good range of movement. This means that as we get older we must continue to stretch and move each nd every day.
MOVEMENT NOURISHES YOUR JOINTS & YOUR FASCIA
Let's talk about fascia. Fascia wraps around just about every internal part in your body and forms a sheath around each muscle, helping to keep you flexible, mobile and resilient. However, it is only fairly recently that the importance of fascia has been understood, led by research done by Integrated Medical therapist Thomas Myers author of Anatomy Trains.
“While every anatomy lists around 600 separate muscles, it is more accurate to say that there is one muscle poured into 600 pockets of the fascial webbing,” Thomas Myers.
WHAT IS FASCIA?
When it is healthy, fascia is smooth, supple and slides easily (imagine thin layers of tissue paper stacked on top of each other), allowing you to move and stretch with ease. However, lack of movement can cause the fibres to stick and thicken in an attempt to protect the underlying muscle. If you've ever seen the whiteish layer that covers a chicken breast then you've seen fascia.
Poor posture, lack of flexibility and repetitive movement (sitting at a desk all day, playing a particular sport) pull the fascia into ingrained patterns. Adhesions form within the stuck and damaged fibres like snags in a sweater, and once they’ve formed they’re hard to get rid of.
However stiff you are it's never too late to start integrating movement and stretching into your day. Just a couple of minutes at time is fine such as reaching your arms up overhead, side bends or gentle shoulder rolls and neck stretches all help.
HOW TO KEEP FLEXIBLE (so you don't break)
It really is quite simple! Whether you are spending time sitting at a desk, driving a car or watching TV make sure that you take regular breaks to get up and move around - even if it's just 30 seconds. Try and get into the habit of linking a stretch or movement with something else that you do for example when you go to the toilet - take a moment to stand up and squeeze your shoulder blades together; when you put the kettle on do some side bends; doing your teeth - add in some spinal rotations. If you want more ideas then do please get in touch.
WAYS YOU CAN TREAT YOUR FASCIA WITH LOVE:
Spend 5 minutes doing the stretch video I’ve put together for you here: 5 minute stretch routine
Hold long stretches (anything up to 3 minutes). To get the most out of your stretch you want to try and relax into it. Hold, then take a breath in, as you exhale gently deepen the stretch if yo feel you can. BUT remember, it shouldn't be painful - no more than a feeling of mild discomfort.
Have a 15-20 minute soak in a warm bath with Epsom salts then do 10 minutes light movement.
Have a massage.
Drink plenty of water.
Remember that movement is good for you and the longer that you are alive the more you need to make sure you are incorporating it into your daily life - not just once or twice a week.
If you feel you'd like a bit of support getting your health, fitness and overall wellbeing back on track I'd love to help you. My 8 week online programme; VIBRANT LIVING FOR HEALTHY LONGEVITY is a wonderful way to embed these habits (and a lot more) in an easy, informative and enjoyable way so that you can live your life with energy and freedom.