Stretching for Longevity
“Blessed are the flexible for they will not allow themselves to become bent out of shape!”
~ Robert Ludlum
It’s no secret, as we get older our muscles and joints become more and more stiff if we don’t take care of them. Of course, this includes stretching and mobilizing them regularly. When I was in my teens or early 20s, I remember jumping right into a competitive soccer or basketball game. I didn’t even think twice about stretching or mobilizing beforehand. If I were to do that to my body today, I would be asking for big trouble. Stretching and mobility has become an integral part of my daily routine and I recommend it becomes a part of yours too. Think about it; your body is the most important vehicle you own. Why not support it anyway you can to ensure it performs at a high level and lasts as long as possible without breaking down?
There are two main types of stretching you should include in your daily practice if you want to promote your health and longevity – dynamic and static stretching. What’s the difference between the two? With static stretching you hold a stretch position for a certain period of time and with dynamic stretching, you move through a given range of motion a certain number of times. An example of a static stretch would be standing and bending forward to touch your toes. Once you get to the furthest point, you would hold it there for 30-60 seconds for instance. To convert this static stretch into a dynamic stretch, you would bend forward toward your toes and then immediately return back to standing. You would repeat this bend pattern several times.
The latest research shows that dynamic stretching is best prior to engaging in activities or sports and static stretching is best post exercise. Keep in mind, both forms of stretching are valuable and have a host of benefits. A combination of dynamic stretching prior to exercise and static stretching after exercise is the best protocol to improve and maintain flexibility. It also helps with injury prevention and recovery. Make sure to include every joint in the body when you’re doing either form of stretching, even it’s for just a few seconds. I prefer to start from the top of my body and work my way down. This way makes it much easier to remember to include all parts.
In the beginning, I divide the body into 3 major sections. For instance, first I’ll start with my jaw and neck. Secondly, I move down to my shoulders, thoracic spine (mid back), elbows, wrists and fingers. And in the 3rd section, I warm-up my lumbar spine, hips, knees, ankles and toes. Once I feel that all are loosened up and moving well (no stiffness or kinks), I move onto the next stage – integration.
Integration is very important because the body is not just a number of separate parts working independently from one another. Your baby toe is connected to your pinky finger through connective tissue called fascia. Think of fascia like a highly complex spiderweb. Pulling on one end affects the whole web. Therefore, you do not want to neglect any part and you do not want to neglect moving through patterns which connect all of these parts together. If you want to maintain a healthy and vital body for a long time then be sure to include dynamic and static stretching to your daily regime.
Your V10 Health Coach,
P.S. If you are interested, I also make a coaching video for each of these posts on YouTube. You can subscribe to my YouTube channel so you do not miss out on any of the valuable content I share. Here is the link for this post: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDSAqgD0dfw