When you get up in the morning, you lift your arms towards the ceiling, take a deep inhale and stretch. After a long day at the work, you stand up from your desk, move your arms, wrists and back, and stretch. Go to bed, relax into your sheets, and stretch out your arms and legs. Stretching seems instinctual to do, but why does it feel so good? And how does it help the body? Simple! In the attachments of each muscle, there are receptors called Golgi Tendon Organs, or “GTOs”. These receptors relax a stretched muscle so it won't overstretch or tear. With time, good stretching takes advantage of golgi tendon organs, lengthening muscle while still keeping its integrity. This causes improved range of motion and flexibility! So what are the downsides of not stretching regularly? Short, tight muscles for starters, and also ischemia—this occurs when a muscle is so tight and stressed that blood circulation through the muscle body is disturbed - it can cause Trigger Points, Adhesions (knots), tension and pain.
Stretching is a wonderful tool because it's something at the very core of our wellness, and it only takes minutes to do! Try some of these, our favorite stretches:
Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet planted firmly on the ground. Position your right leg so that the bottom of the ankle is resting on the knee of the left leg. Bring your legs toward your chest and feel the stretch in your glute muscles and hip. Hold it for a few deep breaths, and then release. Repeat on the other leg.
Find an open door or the edge of a wall. Raise your arm and place it there, bending your elbow to 90 degrees. Now lean forward a little. Feel that pull in your chest and shoulder? Those are your pectoral muscles, or “pecs”. Do this a few times on both sides to reward those tired, tight muscles.
Go near a table, your desk, or you bed (if it's high enough). Brace yourself with the hand closest to the table top and place your faraway leg behind the leg closest to the table. Raise your faraway arm over your head. This is stretching your latissimus dorsi (your “lats”) and it's great for everyone! Do a few seconds and then switch sides. Great!