The 10-minute stretch
Episode #9 of the course Small habits that yield big results by Joe Bennett
There’s way too much sedentary lifestyle today. It’s practically an epidemic, especially in America. Over time, I’ve integrated more movement into my life than I’ve ever had, and I still feel like I sit too much—feeling myself become a body at rest instead of a body in motion.
Working movement into my life began a few years ago when I decided that I was tired of stupid injuries I was getting from everyday life. The most pitiful one I remember happened when I was playing “race car” with my kids. I leaned to one side and pinched a nerve in my neck. I was like, “What the hell?!” And then I was laid up in bed for a week taking aspirin every 4 hours.
After that crappy experience, I began doing a basic stretch routine every morning since. Nothing crazy, nothing yoga-level. Just your average everyday stretching.
Taking action on this was the beginning of my physical fitness recovery.
In my life
Like most things that are healthy, I just feel better after doing this routine. Throughout my life, my joints seemed to be my weak spot. After some retrospection, I noticed that my joint strength couldn’t keep up with my increasing muscle strength that occurred when I started working out or getting physically active. Stretching has corrected this. I can tell my joints are getting stronger, and my range of movement is increasing.
How you do it
Here’s my routine I do every morning:
• Neck stretch
• Shoulder stretch
• Arm stretch
• Torso stretch
• Hip, hamstring, torso, back
• Quad, hamstring, knee
• Calf, IT band, Achilles, top of foot
The benefit to you
Stretching is a basic, foundational physical fitness exercise yielding countless benefits to those who practice it. Just a few of these are:
• Improved muscle tone
• Faster recovery after strenuous exercise
• Increased resilience
• Greater range of motion
• Injury reduction
• Mental peace
• Better blood flow
Stretching is like a stepping stone—one that you can make as easy or challenging as you like toward health. It is zero to low impact and can be done by beginners yet keep experts challenged.
The old adage “use it or lose it” applies to your body’s range of movement.
Interestingly enough, we don’t lose range of movement because our muscles shrink or get tight; we lose it because our nervous system begins to understand the sedentary positions we live in as normal. Then when something happens to move us out of this new normal, it freaks out and sends up a huge ouchie red flag like what happened to my neck.
When we stretch, we’re telling our nervous system (that connects to all our muscles and joints) that this new range of movement is OK and safe. Over time, it learns this, and we can then stretch farther.
What you’ll learn tomorrow: Determine the daily win
“Stretching: 30th Anniversary Edition” by Bob Anderson
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