As a regular addition to any massage therapy or training program, stretching can help you avoid injury while increasing a development of body awareness and the promotion of mental and physical relaxation. The importance of stretching is oftentimes overlooked but its benefits can lead to a calmer, more centered (and limber) you.
If you are new to stretching and aren’t quite sure how to go about getting started, try writing out a routine. This aids in keeping you focused and motivated. It also provides an easy answer when you find yourself sprawled on the floor at odd times during the day and you ask yourself, “What am I doing again?”
After articulating your goals, set aside time to devote to work on different stretches. Start out with two to three sessions a week for at least ten minutes each to see how it feels. The best times to stretch are either right before or after exercise when your muscles are warm. If you are going to stretch and you aren’t just starting or finishing an activity, try to walk, jog, or bike for five to ten minutes to get your muscles ready. It can be dangerous to stretch cold muscles!
When stretching, target major muscles groups that you use for work or play. You should incorporate a variety of moves and be sure to work muscles on both sides of your body to promote bodily balance. Take it slow and avoid bouncing as this can cause injury. When stretching, you should stretch to a point where you feel tension in your muscle but not pain. With practice, you will be able to gradually increase your flexibility, but at the beginning don’t force it!