I possess a natural empathy and a desire to help people; whether that is to help ease the pain of chronic tension, to soothe the muscles following over-exertion or simply to relax and take away anxiety. I treat people holistically and as individuals

Amy Phillips - 07800 636266

Dekker Road, Dulwich Village. London. SE21 7DJ

thedulwichtouch@me.com

Tuesday, April 30, 2013 Wellbeing

Stretching for everyone

‘A regular stretching program will help to improve posture, develop body awareness, improve coordination, promote circulation, increase energy, and improve relaxation and stress relief.’
Brad Walker, The Anatomy of stretching.

Even for those of you who don’t have the time, energy or inclination for a regular yoga or pilates practice, a short stretching session every day will bring amazing rewards. Though stretching is especially important if you are doing any strenuous exercise, it can also have immense benefits for those of us who live a more sedentary lifestyle. When sitting, muscles tend to stiffen, so sitting for prolonged periods can lead to severe tightness, particularly in the hamstrings (back of the leg), lower back and chest and shoulders. After a hard day in the office having a good stretching session not only relieves this tightness, it can also help clear the mind and aid relaxation.

Here are a few basic stretches:

Lower back and hip opener:
Sit on the floor, bend both knees and bring your feet together. With your hands, press your feet together, using your elbows to press your knees down toward the floor. Hold for a minute or two.

Hamstring stretch:
Sit on the floor and straighten your left leg in front of you. Bend the right knee, placing the sole of your right foot against your left inner thigh.
Fold over your left leg, and if you can, grasp the foot, breath slowly and deeply and on the exhale try and push it just a little further. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute and then switch legs.

Reclining hamstring stretch:
Lie on your back. Raise your left leg as high as you can, keeping your lower back relaxed (not arching or pressing into the floor) Hold your lower thigh and encourage the leg to move toward your head. Flex your foot to stretch your calf too.
To deepen the stretch, place a yoga strap or towel on the ball of your foot and use your hands to pull the strap toward you. After 30 seconds, switch legs.

Chest opener:
Sit or stand up tall and bring your arms behind you, clasping one hand inside the other. Lift your chest and raise your arms slightly- you should feel a mild stretch spread across your chest. Make sure you are not arching your lower back and try and hold in your abdominal muscles (without holding your breath).
If this feels comfortable, clasp your hands together tightly and slowly bend your upper body forwards, towards the floor, hold for 30 seconds to one minute- this really stretches the shoulders and hamstring. Think about the head being heavy and shake your head slowly up and down, left and right to loosen the neck.
- It is very important to breath when you’re stretching, be very aware of the breath and make sure you aren’t holding it.
- Stretching shouldn’t hurt- only move to the point where you can feel the stretch but not beyond. If you stretch regularly you will quickly see an increase in flexibility and should be able to stretch a little further every day.
- Try these stretches for a week or two as often as possible but at least once a day and you’ll really feel the difference.
For a deeper stretch, and particularly for stretching before and after exercise, try getting a foam roller. These are often found in gyms, and are a great tool for getting a really deep stretch. They can be found all over the internet and are very cheap and easy to use. They often come with a set of stretching instructions, but many books are available too, which will guide you in stretching almost every muscle group.
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