Daily stretching is great for your body, it loosens-up muscles keeping them strong and healthy. Muscle tissue is similar to an elastic band: warmth and stretching will allow the band to expand. Without it, your muscles will literally shorten, and then, when they are called upon for movement, they feel weak and stiff. Most of you will have experienced body tightness at some stage. It’s no fun! You feel older than your years, and it’s a recipe for injury.
Your body houses an impressive number of muscles, over 650! (You might win your next pub quiz with that fun fact!) These don’t all need stretching, but there are a certain few that are critical for mobility, for example the upper and lower back area, calves, hamstrings, hip flexors and quads in front of the thighs.
Challenge yourself this summer!
One popular yoga pose known as the downward-facing dog or Adho Mukha Svanasana, targets all those areas. It’s a step in the sun-salutation sequence and one non-yogis must persevere with to master perfectly.
Summer is the best time to set yourself a little physical challenge. If you want to improve your flexibility, then fifteen minutes of daily stretching to perfect this pose by September is a great goal!
Tips for this asana:
One of the key features of the downward-facing dog is that your legs should be straight and fully extended while keeping your feet flat on the ground. This tends to be painful for those with tight hamstrings. Don’t lift your heels, but do bend at the knees to relieve some of the strain. Then gently straighten one knee at a time to gradually stretch those hamstrings.
Stretching is so important, especially if you are living with a chronic condition such as sciatica, arthritis, general back pain or any of the conditions we see often at Spinal Care Clinics in Brentwood. We’re hoping as you read you’ll want to stretch out a little, but remember, flexibility won’t magically improve overnight. It does take weeks to months to significantly improve flexibility but stick with it, because once you do – all other activities will become easier.