I take my body for granted. I know I have a relatively functioning, young, capable body but in the 28 years I’ve been inhabiting it I’ve done very little to look after it, in the grand scheme of things. I take spa days and I get manicures/pedicures but I neglect the things that will ensure it runs smoothly in the future – READ: muscles. That was until recently when I recommenced physiotherapy and pilates. It’s made a world of difference to my wellbeing but it’s been one key realisation that has changed my way of thinking. We need to stretch ourselves.
I am talking about stretching both physically and mentally but for today we will concentrate on the physical. Our muscles are kind of like rubber bands – if we stretch them regularly they stay in shape and continue to work, but if we leave them unused they dry up and will likely break when we do go to use them. Just like with those rubber bands, a little regular stretching can give us an extended period of use.
Now that I have you thinking about all the rubber bands you have that may be starting to dry-up, let’s hear from an expert on the important topic of stretching. Pilates pro, Peta Serras, has a list of 5 things we all need to know.
1. Stretching is an endorphin boosting activity
Although gentle on the body, stretching for 5-10 minutes will deliver the same feel good endorphins you get from a run. Not only will you be on a happy high after your stretch session, your blood pressure and stress levels will be lower too! Getting a natural pick me up couldn’t get easier.
2. Stretching even one area of the body benefits the body as a whole
A lot of the time it’s not the area that might be hurting that needs stretching. For example when the muscles in the backs of your legs and glutes are tight it creates lower back discomfort. When you stretch these areas, expect increased flexibility, which will reduce tightness and alleviate lower back pain. The same goes for when we get sore knees. Try stretching out the other muscles in the legs and notice how your knee pain will disappear. These are just two examples of how stretching a particular area can benefit the entire body.
3. Stretching benefits every kind of physical activity or exercise you currently do
Stretching regularly will not only maximise flexibility, it helps to increase coordination and improve your overall body awareness. When the muscles of the body are flexible, our joints function better and you’ll move properly through motions such as a squat or kicking a ball, which means maximum results and optimum performance.
4. Your bust will appear perkier
If the muscles of your back and chest are tight it will be impossible to stand up tall. Slouching posture gives the illusion of a saggy bust so when you have good posture it does the exact opposite! It’s a natural lift, no super push up bra required!
5. Stretching makes life easier
We need a certain degree of flexibility to perform daily tasks like bending forward to tie up our shoes and reaching to get something off the back seat of our car. Full body flexibility means that you can perform these tasks with ease and reduce your risk of injury. Try stretching regularly and you’ll notice straight away how much easier simple little tasks can be.
About Peta Serras
Peta Serras is a Pilates Instructor, Model and Holistic Health Coach. She holds her Diploma in Professional Pilates through Polestar Pilates Australia and her Fitness Certificate III through the AIAS. Peta owns an award winning boutique Pilates Studio, Pilates Evolution Now, where she personally trains over 150 clients through her mat and studio Pilates classes and mentors students for Polestar Pilates Australia. Peta is passionate about leading a healthy lifestyle and inspiring others to do the same. Her passion is helping her clients exceed their fitness goals as well as injury rehabilitation. Peta is the creator of the Peta Serras Stretching Series, which consists of a beginners and advanced routine that maximise flexibility in just 15 minutes a day. Peta also runs a health-based blog.
Do you stretch? What kind of exercise do you do regularly? Let me know by commenting below!