Bodywork that's more than skin deep

Massage therapy is just one part of a healing regimen. Yoga or daily stretching and breathing exercises are key elements in preventing injury, reducing stress and maintaining overall health. They extend the benefits of massage treatments! A balanced diet, exercise, plenty of water and laughter are also important aspects in a healthy lifestyle.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Stretch It Out

Stretching is one of the most vital ways to increase flexibility in your body. Most of us weren't taught the importance of daily stretching. Flexibility is essential for long-term muscle health. Healthy, flexible muscles are less susceptible to injury, and fewer injuries mean less stress, less downtime from work or your home life. Therefore stretching is an activity that all of us should incorporate into our daily routine. Whether it's for fifteen to twenty minutes in the morning, ten to fifteen minutes during lunch, or twenty to thirty minutes after work, finding time in your day to stretch will greatly benefit your overall muscular health and well being. If you spend most of your day sitting at a desk or your job is high stress, it would be very beneficial for you to do stretches during the course of your day. Many people do not realize that mental stress can manifest physically as muscular dis-ease, and stretching serves as a no-cost preventative medicine that you can practice anywhere at anytime.

The Stretch Deck, by Olivia H. Miller is a great resource with fifty beautifully illustrated cards, including detailed instructions, benefits and tips for each stretch. Look for it online and order it! There are many great stretches included and there are even sequences for office workers, for runners, for gardeners, for golfers and even sequences for travelers. Most of the stretches I show my clients are in this deck.

Here are a few pointers to help you get the most out of your stretch.

*Warm up before you stretch. Light, gentle stretches help to warm up the muscle tissue.
*Do not bounce during your stretch. This can increase the chance of injury.
*Move into the stretch until you feel mild tension, not pain.
*Inhale and exhale deeper into the stretch and hold for at least ten-20 seconds.
*Drink lots and lots of water throughout the day. A hydrated body will move much more easily into a stretch.

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