Whether it is emotional or physical, stress takes its toll on our bodies over time. This causes chronically tight muscles and pain aches. In many cases this can be easily prevented with proactive self-care. That’s where I come in.
One of my many goals as your massage therapist is pain prevention. While we all wish we could get massages on a daily (or even weekly) basis, there will probably be weekly gaps between your sessions. Don’t fret! To keep your body in tune, stretching is an effective technique to self-maintenance.
The Benefits of Stretching
When your muscles tense up, the muscle fibers shorten. Stretching is the elongation of fibers to provide maximum flexibility. Simply put: stretching helps to reverse the process of muscles becoming tight in the first place. That’s why it is so common to see someone stretch before and after their exercise.
However you don’t have to exercise to feel the benefits of stretching. You can do it at anytime and still feel these benefits:
- Improved circulation – Similar to massage therapy, stretching increases blood flow and nutrients to the muscles.
- Flexibility – Muscles don’t just become shorter and tighter with stress; age also triggers them. Improved flexibility through stretching also includes a better range of motion in joints.
- Pain alleviation – This is especially true to those who suffer from chronic back pain. Since there are multiple muscles all over the body that contribute to posture, stretching helps relax those tense muscles and can improve pain in your back.
- Reduced stress – Stretching is considered its own form of exercise and releases those feel-good endorphins.
There are two different types of stretching to take into consideration: static and dynamic. Static stretching is holding a stretching position for a period of time (usually 10-20 seconds). In dynamic stretching, movement is mostly continuous with positions only held for 1-3 seconds.
Easy Ways to Stretch More
As I said before, it is common to see stretching before and after an exercise, but it is not necessary. You can stretch before bed to help relax and promote sleep at night, as well as in the morning. At work (especially if you spend most of your day sitting), try to get up every 30 minutes and stretch and walk around for 10.
Those are just easy ways to incorporate stretching in between your massage therapy sessions. While stretching has its benefits, they are overshadowed by the benefits of massage. If you have any questions on a specific stretching technique or activity, don’t be afraid to ask. My main priority is to help you feel your best, on and off the table.