Do you ever wake up in the morning feeling like somebody twisted your body overnight and you are not sure how you are going to unravel it? Or maybe you struggle to tie up your shoe laces and have to be creative with the ways in which you bend over to reach your feet? Or maybe you find it difficult to concentrate as sitting down at your desk is uncomfortable because you feel that your body is being pulled in unexpected directions?
It might well be that your body is trying to tell you that you need a jolly good stretch to reset it and restore it to a more functional state. You’d be surprised at how accumulated tension can affect your wellbeing physically and mentally.
Sometimes the signals that our body is sending us can be subtle and can be difficult to spot. So here is an easy recap of 5 signs that you need to stretch.
1 – You are getting older and you need to stretch more
It’s a sad thing but ageing isn’t something that any of us are going to escape. What really sucks about getting older is that just as you get a handle on your emotions and life skills your body starts to fall apart and stops playing ball. Your muscle mass decreases and your cartilage gets worn out reminding you of all the high impact activities you did in your youth. This results in your body getting stiffer, especially after sitting down (or even lying down) for prolonged periods of time.
The good news in all this is that you can do something about it. By dedicating a few minutes every day to stretching you can maintain your flexibility and make up for the wear and tear of everyday life’s activities. Go for a full body stretch first thing in the morning addressing all joints and all major muscle groups to feel rejuvenated and ready to face the day.
2 – Your energy levels are low
This may be counter-intuitive but when you feel constantly tired despite sleeping and resting it might be that your muscles are tense and therefore they are using up more energy than if they were relaxed. Although there is disagreement among experts about the benefits of stretching if you want to top up your energy reserves you need to stretch.
There are many different styles of stretching that you can choose from: from yoga poses that specifically address energy levels to other activities like Tai Chi and Qi Gong which include dynamic stretches not as strong as those in Yoga and yet just as equally effective at getting your energy moving and rising again. You don’t need to spend all day doing these, have a go at a few different styles and then choose the exercises that work for you. 20 minutes max is all you need to feel energised.
If this problem persists though you will need to double check your nutrients intake and your lifestyle, there might be other reasons why you are always feeling tired.
3 – Your muscles ache (you really need to stretch)
Recent studies on the benefits of stretching after a workout have concluded that the benefits are minimal. One such study conducted at the George Institute for Global Health at the University of Sydney found that out of two groups of people of which one stretched after a workout whereas the other didn’t. a quarter of those who stretched reported less muscle ache the following day compared to those who didn’t stretch.
However, stretching achy muscles has proven beneficial in reducing the discomfort. This is especially important if the aches and pains are the consequence of poor posture or over doing physical work in conditions that don’t necessary allow for proper form or, again, posture. A good stretching session at the end of the work day can help you correct your posture, improve your flexibility and therefore help you prevent injury.
4 – You are stressed
Have you ever noticed that when you are stressed over events in your life that your shoulders and neck tighten up? This is a common cause of muscle tension that I see in many of my lovely Thai Yoga Massage clients: there are stressors in their lives and as they deal with them their bodies tense up wreaking all sorts of havoc to add to their woes.
Stretching your body when you are under pressure can bring welcome relief from stress and anxiety. Slow, focused stretching like you would do in Yin Yoga also can lower your blood pressure and breathing rate helping you restore balance.
A two hour Thai Yoga Massage treatment helps relieve the stress in your life by taking you through a sequence of slow, deep stretches that encourage muscle relaxation and also help you calm your brain and clear your head. By the end of the treatment you will feel your focus return and you will be able to think clearly again. Clients often report feeling a sense of lightness at the end of the treatment and are ready to deal with stressful events in their lives with renewed energy and focus.
5 – Your sports performance is sub par and you are prone to injuries
Regardless of your choice of sport you cannot access your strength fully unless you take care of your flexibility. A tense muscle won’t allow you to use your joints’ full range of motion thus limiting your performance somewhat. Because of this you might also be more prone to getting injured.
I know this from personal experience from spending the past 40+ years doing all manners of sports and activities that required me to be both strong and flexible to be able to enjoy them and keep making progress. It’s not all about winning and being the best, it’s about loving what you do and knowing that you can do it safely and to the best of your abilities.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, stretching helps your circulation so that your blood can better deliver nutrients to muscle tissue, helping you perform better not just in your chosen fitness activity but in everyday life activities too. If this isn’t enough to convince you that you really need to stretch there if further research that shows that stretching can help you build strength in the same way that resistance training does: by creating micro tears in your muscles that get repaired leading to growth.
Can Thai Yoga Massage help me when I need to stretch?
Each treatment will take you through a series of stretches and mobilisation exercises that address your specific issues whether they relate to your sports performance, your wellbeing, your mental health or just to give you the space for some “me time”.
All you have to do to get started is click the button below and you too can experience all the benefits of stretching without having to do it.