Every year it is the same old mantra; New Year, New Me! This idea is reinforced by our family and friends, coworkers and peers telling us how important it is to find time to implement the “holy” practice of self care. It can be exhausting however, to constantly figure out what YOU need and to find the practice that will help you feel rejuvenated. Honestly sometimes it feels like there is a need to get self care after a brainstorm session for implementing my own self care HAHAHA. And ironically, here I am writing a blog post about self care! But there is an interesting bit of self care I feel is worth exposing. What if I told you that some totally doable stretches could count as self care while 1.relaxing tight muscles, 2.reducing stress and 3.providing an increase in pain tolerance.
1. Relax tight muscles: When you stretch tight muscles it can help keep them flexible and increase blood flow to an affected area. The increased blood flow helps to aid in healing and rejuvenation of sore and tight muscles. Stretching keeps the muscle from shortening so you will be able to use it without pain and decreased range of motion. Full range of motion in the right muscle groups improves posture and can positively affect productivity, sleep, and mood.
2. Reduced stress: We carry the world on our shoulders, or for me and most of my clients we carry the stress of our worlds in our shoulders, and necks and backs and hips. Where we hold our stress can be as unique as our individual burdens, and stretching the areas that hold our stress will let out some of the stress in our world not only physically but also mentally and emotionally. Released tension and stress reduces mental stimulation, providing a little more focus, a lot more peace, and an improved quality of sleep.
3.Increase in pain tolerance: In an ABMP article about stretching, a study done by the Scandinavian Journal of Pain is referenced. This study “examined the effects of stretching on pain sensitivity by asking 22 healthy adults who did not suffer from back pain to perform stretches of the lumbar region and forearm muscles.” The article goes on to explain that
“Before and after each exercise, researchers measured the pain sensitivity threshold for a muscle of the lower back (erectors of the lumbar spine) and a muscle of the forearm (wrist flexors) using an algometer. Researchers observed that both stretches produced hypoalgesia, an increase in the pain sensitivity threshold. This means that after the participants performed the stretches, the experimenter had to apply greater pressure to produce pain.”
The pain tolerance that comes with stretching may not be anything herculean, but is a notable addition to a clearly wonderful list of benefits that come from stretching.
Now that you're convinced, I want to share some super awesome easy stretches you can start to implement in your life now: