Active Stretch

The benefits of stretch

Do you feel you have poor posture lack of strength, restricted movement, general lack of energy and motivation?  Would you like to move through your day more freely and fluidly?  Maybe stretching could be the answer.

Stretching is generally thought of as a quick prelude or afterthought, after our normal exercise routine.  The importance being on whatever activity we are performing.  Something as natural as stretching is something that is still so little known about.  There is growing research about our fascial system.

A few things about fascia…

Fascia is commonly known as the soft tissue component of the connective tissues (connecting muscles, bones, tendon, ligaments, joints and organs). It gives form and structure to our bodies.  This awareness of the fascia and its properties is growing and something that has been regarded as simply a covering has now much interest and research.  Fascia has enormous importance and functions in the body.  It attaches, stabilises, encloses and separates muscles and other internal organs.  It is a protective sheath and interwoven system of fibrous connective tissue, mostly comprising collagen, which provides a framework that helps and supports and protects individual muscle groups and the entire body as a unit.

Fascia allows your body to perform functional activities freely, allow muscles and organs to move freely.  When these become stuck due to poor posture (imagine the pulling or a wetsuit in a particular area) this can cause poor blood flow, weaken nerve impulses, limited flexibility and range of movement which can also lead to pain and discomfort.  Such problems as IT band syndrome, frozen shoulder, plantar fasciitis can all be caused by distortions in the fascia.  Fascia is protective by nature and will adhere to protect our imbalances i.e. poor posture or awkward movements and tighten to protect joints.  For example siting still for long periods promoting stiffness and lack of movement in general add to this and can be a major factor in muscle and joint pain with a possibility of leading to injury.

Stretching can help in various ways

Contracting muscles whilst stretching is what we do whilst we are awake.  It is natural to resist the stretch and feels amazing.  Animals also do this before movement.  Resistance training is contracting and lengthening muscle at the same time.  This is the secret to real stretching and permanent changes.  Muscles need to contract in both strength training and in stretching.  It takes twice the force to stretch a muscle than to strengthen it.  You pull yourself together when resistance training instead of pulling yourself apart.

Stretching regularly with resistance to recondition our fascia can help restore us to our natural freedom of movement.

Stretching can also help psychologically.  In traditional Chinese medicine, a system thousands of years old, they use muscle and energy linking meridians.  Stretching along these meridians can create a shift in energy that may have become blocked.

Stretching doesn’t have to replace your normal training in fact it will enhance it, creating strength and stability as well as more fluid movement.

For more information check out our website at www.mantrarooms.co.uk or our Facebook page to find out about our new Stretch Class and 1:1 stretching.