What makes a good stretch?
This is a question we have been asked a few times lately so here it goes... A good stretch is one that makes progress. It takes you towards your movement goals be it reducing pain or increasing range of motion or improving ease of movement. A good stretch should feel good, but be aware that 'good' doesn't always mean it is taking you towards your goals.
Keep these 4 points in mind when stretching and you will set yourself up for success. -
✔Alignment We all have postural biases and we are not entirely symmetrical beings. However, typically we will want to correct or minimize any favouring of one side when stretching. Square off the hips and set the shoulders in a correct position before starting. Aim to encourage an ideal posture rather then exaggerate a bias that is already there. Keep in mind that stretching with poor alignment can still feel good which can throw you off. -
✔Intensity Less is more when it comes to stretching. The no pain no gain mentality does not tend to work well. Consistency matters more and little improvements go a long way over time. Aim for a 6 or 7 out of 10 on the intensity of the stretch and no more. Breathe and allow your tissues to melt and soften before going further. Your face and breath should be relaxed. -
✔Length Visualize creating length and space in the body. For example, If you are doing a side bend, root your feet into the ground and really reach for the sky and send your finger tips away from your feet. Go UP to go over. -
✔Breath Most important of all your breath should remain calm. Move with the breath. We tend to be more relaxed on an exhale and this can be a good time to lengthen a stretch a little further. Direct the breath to the area being stretched and send oxygen to tissues there. The breath will guide the intensity of the stretch
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