Stretching is kinda like drinking enough water during the day: You know you need to do it, but chances are, you probably don’t do enough of it.

The benefits of regular stretching are well documented, and known to be important to a person’s overall well being, especially as we age. Nonetheless, many still neglect to adequately stretch, leaving their muscles in a state of painful stiffness, brought on by the accumulation of “fuzz.”

What is the “fuzz” about?   

As our muscles contract and relax, their surfaces slide past each other and other body parts. Stretching helps to keep these muscle surfaces moving and sliding in a smooth manner, allowing us to achieve a fuller range of motion. Conversely, when we fail to stretch, fibers form along these surfaces, growing thicker and thicker over time. These fibers are called the “fuzz.” This “fuzz” accumulates every night as we sleep, but may also form due to a lack of movement.

The “fuzz” can range from a minor layer that is easily loosened by a finger, to a thick band, which requires a scalpel to separate.

Thin layers of “fuzz” have only existed for a short amount of time, but when a scalpel becomes necessary, it reveals that it has been there for a longer time. “Fuzz” can accumulate in all parts of the body, but fortunately, we can take steps to eliminate it as well.

Eliminate your “fuzz”.    

Take responsibility for your “fuzz” and melt it away over time.  Essentially, movement — especially stretching — is the best way to do so. By stretching, and gradually increasing our range of motion over time, these fibers can be broken apart and dissolved.  Whether it has accumulated from a lack of activity and stretching, or due to a mobility-limiting injury, by working to increase our range of motion we can reverse this process.

Since the “fuzz” contributes  to the aging process, we can effectively reverse the aging process by eliminating it.

If you do not stretch regularly, now is a great time to begin. A few minutes of stretching in the morning can help to melt away the previous night’s accumulation of “fuzz,” and ongoing stretching efforts can reverse long-term buildup. It is also important to stay loose and mobile over the course of the day, and not to neglect injured parts of the body.

As always, it may be beneficial to seek advice from a physician or other professional before beginning a therapeutic stretching regimen, especially if you experience any pain. Even if you have been inactive for a long period of time, starting a stretching routine can increase your range of motion and clear away your “fuzz.”

When should you stretch?

There is some evidence that regular static stretching outside periods of exercise may increase power and speed, and reduce injury. The best time to stretch is when the muscles are warm and pliable. This could be during a yoga or Pilates class, or just after exercising.

Is is good to stretch in the morning?

Improved circulation and increased energy level. Stretching in the morning helps to increase the blood flow to your muscles. More blood in your muscles means more energy in the morning. Stretching also increases blood flow to your brain and sharpens your concentration in the morning.

Can you get hurt while stretching?

Always stretch only to a point of mild discomfort, or tightness. Pain should not be a part of your stretching routine. If you are feeling pain while stretching, you may be stretching too intensely and this could cause injury. … Getting a muscle to lengthen from stretching requires the delicate manipulation of tension.

Bouncing while stretching may tear muscles—which can lead to scar tissue, tight muscles, decreased flexibility and increased soreness.

How long are you suppose to stretch?

A basic static stretch – holding the pose for an extended period – should last about 30 seconds. Anything less than 20 seconds won’t make a significant difference in lengthening muscle fibers and tissue; hold too long and you risk injury.

3 Important stretches to do every day:

  • The Hump stretch

The problem: Since you are a person living in this century, you probably spend a lot of time hunched over a computer all day. Doing so shortens the muscles in front of your neck and chest, and makes your back extra round. (Not to mention, sitting all day is really bad for you in other ways, as well.)

The fix: Clasp your hands behind your back. Slowly raise your arms behind you until you cannot lift them anymore. You’ll feel a gentle pull across your chest. Take a moment to breathe, gently drop your head back, and then repeat three times.

 

* The Spinal Tap Stretch

The problem: You know how you feel so great in the morning, but as the day wears on, you tend to feel more down? That’s because it’s true—literally. As the day goes on, the tissue between the disks in your spine compresses, and you actually end up shrinking a tiny bit, which makes you feel less functional.

The fix: Stand with your feet directly under each hip, and fold your upper body down toward your legs, keeping your knees a bit bent for safety purposes. Slowly straighten your legs, and let your arms hang toward the floor. Swing your arms and head back and forth for 30 seconds to one minute, and then slowly roll your spine up, one vertebrae at a time. Repeat once.

 

The Lunge Stretch

The problem: Just like you spend the majority of your day hunched over a computer, you also spend it sitting down at a desk. That can wreak havoc on your psoas, which is the muscle located deep in your stomach on the front part of your spine that helps you lift your leg higher. Sitting all day actually shortens your psoas, so it doesn’t function as well.

The fix: Kneel on the floor in a lunge position. Put both hands on your hips, and slowly pull your hips forward, keeping them square. You should feel a deep pull in the front part of your back leg, and in your lower stomach. Hold for 30 seconds, breathe deeply, and then relax. Switch sides and repeat.

 

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