Our 10 minute Stretch Challenge: Stretch & Chill Out
We often get asked at the clinic which stretches and exercises work to rehab or support a certain injury. There are many out there to do and many different ways of doing them. What we have found is the main thing that we all need to learn about stretching is how we are doing not just what we are doing.
Making it very simple Stretching is about chilling out.. while we might have to focus on a specific area due to injury or weakness, most of the time...we all could just do with a good stretch. Most of us carry tension, hold tension, live with tension, restrictions in our flexibility and a nervous system that can fly through the roof with the next challenge, adversity, etc...
So how do we balance the stresses, responsibilities, worries etc that we have? We just need to chill out and take 10 minutes to stretch, breath and rest.
So much doing, pushing things through, making them happen, deadlines which creates tension, exhaustion and a feeling of wanting to give up. And with everything that has happened in the world in last 12 months we have heard that many people are experiencing these things even more.
Ten minutes of stretching goes a long way...it works for those of us who have gotten a bit slow or low, hibernating in summer and reluctant to do much at all. It has it all, it releases tensions and energizes. Perfect. Just what we all need.
The Magic Happens in how we do our stretching.
Don't over complicate: Choose four simple stretches: a pelvic tilt, a spine rotation, a gluteal/hip stretch and a shoulder stretch with a towel for example.
Prepare Your Space: Mat, fluffy carpet, grass...whatever it is make sure you have enough of it to stretch out and make sure you limit your distractions or audience...they can put you off.
Don't count: There is a time and place to count, we say stretching is not it. Instead put a timer on, a 5 or 10 minute bubble of time and settle into getting to know your body, how it feels, moves and works. You can be sensible and become aware of particular areas of the body that feel tighter, or how much you work one side of the body compared to the other, but often counting can be a distraction from connecting with the body and chilling out.
Be consistent not perfect: Always be gentle and understanding with yourself when you forget and delay and celebrate when you remember and commit. If you see it as a chore and a tick box job it will be dull and you will push through it rather than chill out. The easiest way to kill an exercise program is to self berate yourself - you end up feeling bad and thinking it is not worth it...every time it happens it is worth it. That said consistency is key. Don't worry about the time of day, just fit it in when it works, enjoy and make it your 'me' time. 10 minutes is a very small window in a big day...put the phone down, mouse, book, remote, vacuum cleaner etc... and get your mat out...just give it a go...!
Release not Push: This is so important regarding stretching, many of us are almost programmed to push, try hard and force our activity, when we train in a sport, work hard in our job, garden we push through and try hard to get the job done. A Stretch Space should not have any push or trying, it should be a time to let go and relax and release your body not push it or harden it. It is your space, where the muscles, connective tissue and nervous system need to know it is okay to let it all go...hence the space without distractions. The most simple way to achieve this is to make your breathing a key component of your program. Be breath and body aware, get your form and posture where it needs to be first and foremost and then stretch, focusing on letting go of tension in that part of the body.
Commit to stretching being as normal to your daily routine as cleaning your teeth and see what 10 minutes a day can do over a month. Pay attention to your normal niggles and stiff areas and see if they change in one month of stretching.
And let us know - we would be delighted to hear from you, ping us a message on social media or our inbox or show us a picture of your 'Stretch Space'. Head over to our Facebook page to see ours.
If you need any further support or would like to build a bespoke stretch & strengthening & conditioning programme get in touch and we would be happy to advise. Also we offer regular exercise classes online from the clinic, to find out more get in touch.