Stretching and breathing techniques
Either you follow a training program, or you don’t there is a good chance that you’ve developed some tightness in areas of your body, especially if some body parts are used more than others in daily activities.
Is important to note that consistently moving joints through their full range of motion (with stretching exercises) three to five days per week, can decrease the risk of injury when performing daily living activities and ease pain from chronic conditions (back pain, osteoarthritis, etc.), is also important to improve overall flexibility, mind-muscle connection, balance, and posture.
From a mental health perspective, consistent stretching sessions can be used for relaxation and stress management.
TYPES OF STRETCHES:
Dynamic exercises are used to warm-up your muscles, increase your range of motion and joint mobility.
Start with small movements and gradually work to larger ones.
*Cardiovascular exercises can also be used to warm up prior to static stretches and they include any activity that raise your heart rate such as: walking, running, rowing, cycling, skipping rope, etc.
With static stretches the tension of the target muscle is held for a given amount of time, usually 15/30 sec but most beneficial if held between 30 and 60 seconds.
These stretches are safer and most effective after warming up with dynamic stretches.
Static stretches can be active or passive.
Active static stretch - the muscle being stretched does the work to the point of tension.
Passive static stretch – A partner, strap, weight, or elastic band is used to get as deep as possible into the stretch.
This stretching type involves bouncing quickly to get a deeper stretch to increase muscles length and range of motion.
*This stretch is not recommended because of the high injury risk. Other types of stretching can achieve the same goals in a much safer way.
A SUCCESSFUL STRETCHING PLAN:
Include all the major muscle groups head to toe: neck, shoulders, chest, trunk, lower back, hips, legs, and ankles.
Consist in 2 to 3 stretch sessions per week (10/15 min are usually enough).
Enough time allowed: Hold each stretch for a minimum of 15/30 seconds and complete 2/4 repetitions each.
DO’S AND DON’TS
1. Stop if your feel any sudden, sharp, or intense pain.
2. If you’re experiencing significant joint pain do not begin a stretch session and seek guidance from a medical professional.
3. Stretch to the tension point and try to relax as you hold the stretch.
4. Do not bounce on static stretches. Ballistic stretching and bouncing carry an increased risk of injury and are not recommended.
5. Keep a slow and controlled breathing
6. Keep a good posture while stretching and don’t compromise it to get an inch deeper. Feeling the stretch on the muscle is the important bit.
Good posture for stretches in most cases.
- Chest proud and lifted
- Shoulders relaxed down and even
- Arms down and relaxed at your side
- Core engaged
- Hips even
- Knees relaxed and pointing straight ahead
- Feet pointing straight ahead
- Feet flat on the floor when seating.
Adding mindful breathing is a great way to maximise stretching benefit by teaching you how to connect your body and mind prior to stretching. Mindful breathing can help you relieve stress and anxiety.
Find a quiet place to practice breathing exercises.
Pick a chair, a cushion, a yoga mat or a soft surface.
4-4-8 BREATHING TECHNIQUE
This is a basic breathing technique that can massively help you relax and focus especially if you feel tense and stressed out.
This technique, if done properly and consistently, can help you get rid of unnecessary stress so that you can focus on what is really important.
Deep breathing such as this can help you focus, think clearly and reduce stress.
The 4 easy steps of this technique are:
1. Breathe in through your nose for a count of 4, taking the breath into your stomach.
2. Hold your breath for a count of 4.
3. Release your breath through your mouth for a count of 8.
4. Repeat the entire technique four times in a row without a break in between
Focus on counting when breathing in, holding the breath, and breathing out.
Count evenly so that the ratio is 4-4-8 and the whole exercise will take just 64 seconds!