How to Improve Your Posture

Do you sometimes feel like you are a slumped-over, hunch-back-of-a-human? Are your shoulders rounded, and you don’t know how to sit up straight without consciously putting your attention on your posture?

This is something I’ve struggled with in the past, and I’m here to tell you – there is hope! Having rounded shoulders is normally due to a muscle imbalance, which can be fixed fairly easily when consistently doing specific exercises to strengthen & lengthen specific muscles. 

So why do we have rounded shoulders?? One of the biggest causes is sitting at a computer for a large amount of our day, as well as looking at our phones.

 

I like to explain the anatomy part, as I firmly believe it creates a very strong mind-body connection. It helps you do each exercise with more intention, and allows you to be more present while doing them.

Tight/Contracted Muscles:

The pectoralis minor is located on the front of the chest, and is connected to the front of the shoulder blade. It helps to elevate the ribs, and draws the shoulder blade down & close to your ribs. When tight, our shoulders round forward, and certain back muscles become weak & over-stretched.

The serratus anterior can be weak and/or tight – this muscle protracts the shoulder blade & also keeps it close to the spine. A lot of times, this muscle isn’t activated, which creates instability in the shoulder girdle. When the serratus is properly activated, the shoulder blade moves correctly on the back of the ribs + works in conjunction with the rhomboids for better posture.

Weak & Stretched-Out Muscles:

When you round through the shoulders, the muscles in between your shoulder blades – the rhomboids – often become weak & long. This also creates instability in the shoulder girdle, and can cause other issues like a winged scapula.

The levator scapulae is the muscle that helps prevent your head from jutting forward – AKA text neck. However, since we are constantly pushing our head/neck forward, this muscle get stretched out and tender (find the top-point of your shoulder blade – the muscle attaches here and is tender/sore on basically everyone!).

Pectoral Stretch

Grab a band or towel, and lift up, over your head, and behind your back. Loosen up the grip if you feel pain. You should feel a stretch in the front of your chest.

Repeat 10 times

Pectoral Release

Grab a tennis ball and place just inside your armpit/shoulder (see pic of pectoral muscle above so you can see where the muscle is located). Roll around and hold in tender spots and breathe.
Repeat on other side.

Serratus Release

Grab a tennis ball and place just inside your armpit/shoulder/side rib area (see pic of serratus muscle above so you can see where the muscle is located). Roll around and hold in tender spots and breathe.
Repeat on other side.

Rhomboid & Lower Trap Activation

Grab a band or towel, and lift above your head. Slowly & with control, feel the shoulder blades lower down the back and squeeze them closer together. Slowly lift up. This helps strengthen your rhomboids/lower traps & trains your shoulder blades to move correctly.

Repeat 10x for 2-3 rounds.

Lower Trap Shrugs

Grab a weight/ball ball and place between your legs (to activate the core). Hang from a bar/pull up machine until your shoulders touch your ears. Start to pull the shoulders down & away from the ears, externally rotating the arms, feeling the shoulder blades lower & slightly wrap away from the spine. Hold for 1 second, then release & bring the shoulders back up. This strengthens the shoulder girdle, lower traps, and helps train your shoulder blades to move correctly. 

Repeat 10x for 2-3 rounds 

Standing Rows

Grab weights & stand with feet hip-distance apart, knees slightly bent. Bend halfway over, back straight, with neck in line with spine. Put your attention between your shoulder blades, using your rhomboid muscles to squeeze your shoulder blades together as you row the weight up by your sides (elbows hugged in close to the ribs). This helps strengthen the rhomboids. If you feel the strain in another muscle, use lighter weights to start out.

Repeat 10-15 times for 3 rounds

If you would like to see these exercises done in a video, click here.

I recommend doing these exercises 3 times a week for 1-2 months. As you progress, you can use heavier weights & stronger bands.

A few final tips

When sitting at a desk or looking at your phone, be mindful of your posture by:
1) Pulling your chin back so that your spine is in one line
2) Pull your keyboard/computer closer to you so that you aren’t having to hunch forward to look at your screen
3) Wear a pair of blueblockers – this helps decrease eye strain from the amount of light coming from your screen, so you are less likely to lean forward/squint/strain your eyes
4) Sit with your back glued to the back of the chair

While these are all great exercises & tips for your posture, there may be other muscular imbalances that are occuring besides what is mentioned in this article. However, this is a great place to start and worth trying – and the information is FREE to try 😉

Give these exercises a try and let me know how you get along!

The Importance of Being a Yoga Teacher

Hey all!

It’s been a hot minute since I posted on the blog – lots of changes (new job, moved across the country, etc) – and most of my attention was directed away from here. I’ve actually been writing a lot, just not on my blog – so, I wanted to share a recent article I wrote for Dallas Yoga Magazine! I recently launched a new book on Amazon for new yoga teachers, and this article goes hand-in-hand with the theme. Take a look and let me know your thoughts!

The Importance of Being a Yoga Teacher

Do you remember the moment you decided you wanted to be a yoga teacher? Was it after your first yoga class, where you had a realization that this was your life path? Or was it after years in the studio, making a decision after progressing in your practice? Or maybe it was working with several amazing teachers, who inspired you to make a difference in other people’s lives?

Whatever the moment was, you decided. You made the decision to be a lightworker, a guide for others, physically and mentally, to connect with themselves on a 24×68 inch mat for 60-90 minutes every day. It was in this decision that you decided to help others, and in a way, yourself.

You see, teaching yoga isn’t just about guiding people in and out of poses. It’s about communicating with others through a voice only you can speak, and connecting with each person by the energy you bring to the class. Of course, a 200 or 500 hour yoga certification can teach you a thing or two -Sanskrit names for each pose, how to piece together classes, the chakras, and even a few muscle groups in the body. It’s completely necessary in order to safely teach a class, and even more necessary to understand the mind-body connection.

But what does this ultimately mean for students, when a teacher has a certification?

Finish reading the article here: http://dallasyogamagazine.com/the-importance-of-being-a-yoga-teacher/

How Gratitude Can Change Your Life

Over the past 15 months, I have dealt with such a wide variety of emotions, all due to some pretty big life changes.

While the start of 2017 was phenomenal, it quickly turned into a downward spiral around the time I no longer had a full-time job and could not find a replacement for the next 11 months. Interview after interview, no matter how well I thought it went, I never received an offer. For jobs I did take part-time, it wasn’t sustainable (too long of a drive, pay too low, etc). I allowed this to affect me, falling into a victim mindset of not being good enough, or there was something wrong with me. Along the way, a series of unfortunate hair color jobs happened, and my hair began falling out in clumps, and nothing I did could make it stop (that is for another blog post). On top of that, I felt like an outsider anywhere I went to practice yoga, and I couldn’t find a good community of people to be around.

I don’t say all of this for anyone to feel sorry for me – I say this to show you how easily one can fall into a depressed state when you allow outside circumstances to control your life, and all you want to do is sit around and cry because you feel powerless.

depressed dog funny

Basically how I felt every day in 2017

You would think – after all of the self-help seminars and books I’ve read, this would be impossible to happen. Except – I’m human. And while I a let 2017 get to me, I made a decision at the end of the year – no more.

I am writing this because 1) I am afraid of what people will think of me if they knew I was depressed (so I am making myself write this because that fear is dumb), and 2) I hope that what has helped pull me out of a dark hole can maybe help someone else dealing with some darkness in their life.

So here I am, 4 months after I made the declaration that I was no longer going to be a victim, feeling like a completely different person, crying tears of joy some days because I am just so damn happy.

So how did this happen?

3 Things.

Gratitude. Commitment. Friendship.

It began with a decision to change my mind. And while I had tried to change my thoughts many times last year, nothing ever stuck, and I kept ending back in a downward spiral. Insert:

Friendship + Gratitude + Commitment. I texted my 2 best friends in a group text and said, “Let’s start each day with a text to each other about what we are grateful for, and what our goal for the day is. That way, we can start each day off on the right foot and keep each other accountable.” Over time, we all started doing the Tony Robbins 15 minute gratitude priming practice, which forced us to focus on and really feel gratitude. It also had us visualize what we want in the future, which allowed us to look forward to something in the future + change our beliefs about what we think is possible. (There are days we struggle, so a small text or snap to each other saying what we are struggling about brings advice and positivity from each other). Sometimes I switch up and do 20 minutes of Transcendental meditation, but I always, always, end with gratitude and visualization.
At first, I felt really dumb. I didn’t want my boyfriend to see me doing the Tony Robbins priming exercise, because you have to pump your arms up and down and breathe really loudly. Eventually, he started to join me, and it made the meditation that much more powerful!

How I feel I look Like When Priming

It was really difficult to do at first, and I didn’t really start seeing a change in my mindset the first 3-5 times I did it. Then, I started to allow myself to feel things, like love and gratitude for people and situations. And the visualization at the end was the best part, because I could dream about anything I wanted (like a new job!) and really feel like I already had it!

On top of this, I committed to finding a job, even if it meant working as a personal trainer at a gym full time getting paid pennies. I needed something different than what I was currently doing to force me to learn and grow, and I had to set my ego aside and just. do it.

Once I stopped trying to control everything, everything started to fall into place. I met new people that led to new experiences that will forever have an impact on my life/spirituality/consciousness, I started a business with a new friend, my boyfriend and I’s business started taking off, I started taking on new clients for private yoga/personal training sessions, and I had 3 job offers. To say the least, I was dumbfounded.

Did all of these wonderful things happen just from starting a daily gratitude practice?

I say yes. I spent all of last year resisting uncertainty, trying to hold onto things that I no longer had any place for in my life. I needed to grow, but I wasn’t allowing it to happen. I tried to force my life to be and look a certain way, and when it didn’t happen, I was absolutely miserable. It wasn’t until I gave into uncertainty, agreed to say yes to things I felt uncomfortable doing, and became open to a host of experiences that I initially rejected, that life started to turn around.

Practicing gratitude has taught me that consistently focusing your attention on thoughts that serve you and bring you AND others up, there is no way that you can be down. And when I say practice gratitude – I mean really feeling it. If you have a hard time doing it, just start with one thing. There were days when I repeated the same gratitude thought(s) because I couldn’t think of anything or create that internal feeling of gratitude. Now, I have a gratitude journal that I write in every night, thanking the universe for everything I have right now.

So there it is – nothing too fancy, nothing too hard – just a small shift in mindset to commit to practicing gratitude with my friends everyday.

With everything I’ve struggled with and been through, I hope what has helped me can somehow help others. And for anyone out there who has been through this and made it out alive – what are your tips for getting to a happier place? Leave a comment below, you never know how much 5 minutes of your time could positively impact another person’s life 🙂

Yoga Pose Breakdown: Lotus

Lotus (Padmasana)
It’s the pose many people associate with yoga – a calm, wise-looking yogi, meditating with crossed ankles. It seems painful and impossible to get into – and while it can be if flexibility is missing in certain areas of your body – it doesn’t have to be. With consistent stretching of the correct muscles, Lotus is within reach more than you might think!

So let’s break the pose down a little bit:

What muscles need to be stretched?

TFL Outer hipsTensor Fascia Latae:
This muscle connects to your IT band and the top/front of your pelvis. It helps internally rotate the femur at the hip – when tight, it limits external rotation.

Gluteus Medius:
Internally rotates the femur bone in the hip socket – when tight, it limits external rotation.

 

 

adductor muscles


Adductor Muscles:

Since these muscles cross the hip joint + connect to your femur bone, the flexibility of these muscles are necessary for lotus. Tightness can prevent your knees from reaching the floor and creating deeper external rotation in the hip.

 

 

 

 

hamstringsHamstrings:
The hamstrings don’t contribute to the rotation of the hip, but they do affect the tilt of the pelvis. If your hamstrings are tight, you are more likely to have a posterior tilt (pelvis tucked under), as your hamstrings attach to the bottom of your pelvis. This affects posture while in lotus (or any sitting position) – having a slight anterior tilt releases tension in the lower back and improves posture.

 

While stretching the above muscles will help create more space in externally rotating your hip, the hip must be doing the rotation (it is a ball and socket joint!). More rotation in the hip (versus treating your hip socket, pelvis, and surrounding muscles as 1 unit) = less tension/stress on your knee joint.

So what poses can be done to prepare for Lotus?

Low squat (Malasana)
Externally rotates the femur bone, opens up the hip joint, stretches adductor muscles.

Malasana  Modified Malasana

Butterfly (Baddha Konasana)
Externally rotates the femur bone, opens up the hip joint, stretches adductor muscles
*Do not put a lot of pressure on knees to get them closer to the ground. Instead, perform a PNF stretch, which will bypass your stretch reflex & help release the adductors. Push hands & knees against each other, at 20% effort for 8 seconds. Relax for one breath, then gently press your knees down a little further than before.  **Only perform PNF stretching 1-2 times every few days on a single muscle group.

Baddha Konasana

Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
Stretches the outer hips/glutes. Add a twist to stretch adductors & external rotators. Place block under glute for modification.

Pigeon Pose

Pigeon Pose Modification

Reclined Figure 4
Modification for pigeon pose – stretches the outer hips/glutes & inner thigh muscles.

Figure 4

Figure 4 Yoga

Figure 4 Yoga

Forward Fold
Stretches hamstrings, lower back. Place block between legs & rest head on block as a modification.

Forward Fold Yoga

Forward Fold Modification

Seated Cat’s cradle stretch
Stretches tensor fascia latae & glute medius – make sure to pull knee into chest before externally rotating your leg (creates more space in your hip joint) to cradle it + also flex your foot. Gently rock leg from side to side.

Revolved Triangle
Stretches the hamstrings and the muscles attached to the IT band – Tensor Fascia Latae & Glutes. Use a block for modification.

Paravrtta Trikonasana

Revolved Triangle Modification

Hero’s Pose (Virasana)
Opens up the hip joint (internal rotation), stretches quads & hip flexors. Place a block between legs as a modification. For a more intense stretch, lean back on elbows or lay on back. **I was able to do this around 6-8 months post-knee surgery, so patience is key with this pose 🙂

Heros Pose

Heros Pose Yoga

Heros Pose

Heros Pose Modification

Once you’ve done a few of the above stretches, you can now try to enter lotus. **If you don’t feel comfortable attempting lotus just yet, do the stretches above 2-4 times a week (or more if you are looking to increase your flexibility faster!), holding for 30-60 seconds.

Begin in a seated position, both legs straight in front of you. Hug your right (or left) knee to your chest, and allow the knee to fall out to the side, relaxing the muscles around your hip in order for the external rotation to happen. If your knee is not close to the ground, stay here, and repeat the above step with the other leg, staying in butterfly pose.

***Also, if you feel any tension in your knee, that is a signal to STOP. When the external rotation of your hip stops (a ball and socket joint), the rotation is then transferred to your knee (a hinge joint, NOT a joint that can move freely like the hip!). This puts pressure on your cartilage and meniscus, which can cause serious injury to your knee(s).

If you feel no pressure on your knees, begin to move your (flexed) foot up and across your thigh so that it rests on the inner crease of your hip. If you feel pressure at your knee at any point during the movement of your foot, do not continue with the stretch.

If you are able to get into half lotus, repeat with the other leg. Sometimes, we are more open on one side of our bodies, so switching the order of the left/right leg on top might help you get into this pose easier on the other side.

And that’s it! By understanding the muscles involved with getting into lotus pose, you now have an awareness of what to work towards. Give yourself a few weeks or 1-2 months of consistent stretching, and you’ll begin to notice an opening of your outer hips & inner thighs, making lotus a little more accessible.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

Yoga for Athletes

Growing up an athlete, I always struggled with flexibility. Basketball, Soccer, Track, and even Gymnastics – my body always felt stiff and limited. For anyone who has ever played sports or exercised, lack of flexibility seems to be a pretty common theme. And while you don’t need to be bendy like a gymnast, there are many, many benefits to stretching, which I have personally found through yoga.

While there are many other ways to stretch on your own, Yoga has been a go-to not just for improving flexibility, but also for core strength, balance, increasing strength, alignment, body awareness, and focus!

Yoga for Athletes

It’s easy to write off stretching before or after a workout, but I am here to tell you… don’t! Before I began consistently stretching, I was always stiff, prone to injuries, and struggled to progress in my workouts. Below are just a few reasons that I became a huge advocate for stretching/yoga:

  • Compliments strength by creating more space and movement surrounding your joints
  • Improvement of endurance by holding yoga poses and using all muscles in your body to move through yoga sequences
  • Improves body awareness by focusing on alignment, muscles, and joints
  • Certain types of yoga (Yin, Deep Stretch) can be relaxing and meditative, and it releases stress
  • Everyone deals with stress differently by holding it in different areas of the body – yoga helps release tension & built up stress through the combination of movement and stretching
  • During the Industrial revolution, there were many more jobs that involved moving and standing, and there were no lower back issues. Now, many of us have lower back issues due to tight hips, psoas, quad muscles, all from sitting at a desk all day. The unique movements of yoga help increasea mobility in the body, leading to less pain & more freedom of movement
  • Stretching the muscles surrounding your joints gives them more flexibility and mobility

So when is the best time to stretch?

Sometimes muscles are so tight that just stretching won’t work. Like a Chinese finger trap – the muscles must be shortened, then stretched to release. So working out the muscle first, then stretching right after is key to releasing tight muscles.

My favorite time to stretch is through Vinyasa yoga, where the technique of Dynamic Stretching is used, or immediately after a long run or workout when my muscles are warmed up and have a lot of blood flowing to them. As long as you are getting a stretch in, it doesn’t matter when – just find what works best for YOU!

So if you are completely new to stretching/yoga, where the heck do you begin?

 

Just 5 minutes a day, 3-5 days a week. I swear by this – I committed to 5 minutes of stretching a day, and noticed results within just 1 month of being consistent. I picked a few poses, then held them while watching TV or reading. Super easy, and it wasn’t something that added much time to my already-busy days. The more you stretch, the more your body gets used to it, and it starts to feel GOOD (I promise!). Trust me, forward folds used to be my least favorite thing to do in the world!

After a month of consistent stretching/yoga, I noticed my workouts were changing – I was running faster, had less pain/tightness in my hips, and my legs didn’t feel like bricks when I went on runs! My body started to feel like it moved with more ease, and my lower back pain started to decrease.

**Please note that consistency is key. When you stretch, you are creating a new set-length for your muscles. If you only stretch once a week, your muscles will not stay at that new length. Think of it like working out – if you don’t work out, you’ll lose muscle, endurance, etc. Same with stretching – keep up with it, and you’ll notice results over time. 

So what poses can be done if you just stretch for 5 minutes a day?

 

Below are a handful of yoga stretches that can be done every day, or every other day. I’ve included poses for every area of the body, depending on what you are looking to focus on. Pick a few for each day, and watch the magic of your body opening up after just 1 month!

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana: Down Dog
Stretches:
Hamstrings, Calves, Upper back, Shoulders, Pecs
Strengthens: Shoulders, arms, and engages the core while pushing the hips up
Misc:
Lengthens the spine, releasing compression from poor posture or running
Time: Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Repeat 2-3 times

Paschimottanasana: Standing Forward Fold
Stretches: Hamstrings, Calves, Lower back
Strengthens: Mental strengthener 😉
Misc:
Contract your quads in order to relax your hamstrings
Time: Hold for 15-30 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times

Toes Pose
Stretches: Shins, arches of feet
Strengthens: N/A
Misc:
Modify if the first option is too intense
Time: Hold for 15-30 seconds. Repeat 2 times each side

Option 1:

Option 2 (Modification):

Malasana/Garland Pose
Stretches: Ankles, achilles heels, groin, back, and opens up the hips
Strengthens: N/A
Misc:
Use elbows to push knees out for a more intense stretch on the inner thighs
Time: Hold for 1 minute

Option 1:

Option 2 (Modification):

Supta Gomukhasana/ Reclined Cow-Face Pose
Stretches:
Glutes/Outer hips, Piriformis
Strengthens: arms, if you are pulling legs towards you
Misc:
Pull feet towards you for a more intense stretch
Time: Hold for 1 minute. Repeat on other side

To enter: lay on back – cross one leg over the other, bending both. Reach hands to grab outer edges of feet, ankles, shins, or knees. 

Anjaneyasana/Low Lunge
Stretches:
Psoas, Quads/Hip flexors, Groin, Hip joint
Strengthens: Quads and glutes
Misc:
Roll to outer edge of front foot to stretch inner thigh & open hip joint. Slightly squeeze glute to allow your quad muscle to relax.
Time: Hold for 1 minute. Repeat on other side

Low Lunge w/Quad Stretch
Stretches:
Psoas, Quads/Hip flexors, Groin, Hip joint
Strengthens: Quads and glutes
Misc:
Modify – place towel under knee if experiencing pressure/pain
Time: Hold for 1 minute. Repeat on other side

Parsva Balasana/Thread the Needle
Stretches:
Shoulders, Chest, Arms, Upper back, Neck
Strengthens: N/A
Misc:
Modify – place towel under knees if experiencing pressure/pain
Time: Hold for 30 seconds – 1 minute. Repeat on other side

Janu Sirsasana/Head-to-knee Forward Bend
Stretches: Shoulders, Spine, Upper back, Hamstrings, Groin
Strengthens: Back
Misc:
Modify – wrap a towel or strap around your foot if you cannot reach
Time: Hold for 1 minute. Repeat on other side

Reclined Twisted Figure-4
Stretches: Glutes/Outer hips, Piriformis, IT band, TFL, Spine
Strengthens: N/A
Misc:
Pull knee closer towards you for a deeper stretch
Time: Hold for 1 minute. Repeat on other side

To enter: lay on back withbent knees. Place your nakle on the opposite knee, creating a “4” with your legs. Drop your legs to the side so that your foot is flat on the ground.

And that’s it! No need to do every single stretch in one sitting – just choose a few and call it a night 🙂 If you are new to yoga and are interested in taking a class, I recommend going to a yin or deep stretch yoga class – both are slower-paced, perfect for beginners, and offer many variations + props. **If you are in the South Florida area, pop-in to my Deep Stretch class on Wednesday’s at 6:30 pm!

Any other good stretches that you have done to compliment your workout as an athlete? Leave a comment below!

6 Types of Stretching

stretchHave you ever looked at gymnasts, dancers, or people who practice yoga and think… how the heck are they so flexible?? Yah, me too! Obviously there are hours, days, and years of stretching and practice that go into creating a body that moves like gumby, but did you know there are different ways to stretch in order to reduce the amount of time needed to reach higher levels of flexibility?

It wasn’t until after I became a certified yoga teacher and personal trainer that I really began to connect the dots – with a combination of different types of stretching + knowledge of anatomy, it became easier to deepen my stretches. This exploration and knowledge has spilled over into my yoga classes and personal training clients, and can be done before, during, or after any workout – yoga, gym, workout class, etc!

 

So what’s the secret?

 

While you can’t become gumby overnight, there are many ways to work with your body and go deeper in every stretch you do. I’ve compiled a list of different tricks, tips, and techniques used by athletes, performers in Cirque de Soleil, and yoga superstars below – take a look, try a few of them, and watch how quickly your body changes with consistent stretching!

Pre-Stretching:

Take a tennis ball, foam roller, or stick, and roll out your muscles! By doing this, you activate trigger points in your muscles, increase blood flow & allow them to release before you begin stretching.

Foam rolling: https://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/foam-roller-exercises

Tennis Ball: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/jenn-zerling/tennis-ball-therapy_b_9369586.html

Stick: https://www.thestick.com/instructions
 

The 6 different types of Stretching:

 

After rolling out your muscles, they are ready to be stretched! Below are 6 different ways to stretch – all work efficiently, and all can be done before, during, and/or after workouts.

 

1. Passive Static Stretching

Static stretching is probably everyone’s least favorite way to stretch – it is basically just holding a stretch, no movement. Either you are stretching as far as you can go, or there is an outside force (like someone else) pushing you deeper into a stretch. Passive stretching is the most common way to stretch – holding for 15-30 seconds, 1-2 times, will be the most effective.

 

2. Active Static Stretching

Active static stretching is *almost* the same as passive, except it requires a little more knowledge on the anatomy of the body. The *Active* in static stretching refers to contracting an agonist muscle, which in turn allows your antagonist muscles to relax. So what the heck does this mean? Agonist? Antagonist? It’s pretty simple – for every muscle you engage, there is a corresponding muscle (or muscles) that automatically relax, and vice versa. For example:

 

 

Agonist muscle: Quad muscle (rectus femoris) (contract)

Antagonist muscle: Hamstring muscles (relax)

Example Pose: Forward fold. Contract quadriceps, and your hamstrings relax

If you aren’t a doctor or know the entire anatomy of the body and want to know how to relax & stretch a muscle deeper, just google like I do – “Antagonist muscle to_________” – and the resulting answer will show at the top of your search results!

 

3. Isometric Stretching

This type of stretching is a little more demanding on the joints & muscle tendons, so if using this method of stretching, limit it to once every day or 2. However, it provides a deep stretch & is not as uncomfortable as static stretching 🙂

To do an isometric stretch:

First, contract the muscle you want to stretch for 10-15 seconds. By doing this, it produces tension in your muscle and activates your golgi tendon (a nerve sensor). When your golgi tendon is activated, it sends a message to the brain. The brain then taps the nervous system, who is the mediator, which sends a relaxation response back to the contracted muscle. Release the contraction, then relax the muscle for 20 seconds. Repeat one more time.

In doing this, you stretch the muscle and create a new “set length”.

**When creating a new set length, you are actually creating muscle memory – which means it is easier to regain flexibility if you’ve taken time off from stretching!

Example: in Heros pose, contract your quads. Then, relax into the stretch. Repeat. That’s it!

 

 

4. Facilitated/PNF Stretching

stretch

PC credit: StretchCoach.com

PNF stretching – proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation – is a combination of Isometric and Passive Active Stretching (as explained in 1& 3). It is thought to be the most advanced and effective way to stretch, as it was originally developed as a form of rehabilitation.

First, passively stretch the muscle – stretch as far as you can, or have an outside force stretch you as much as possible for 3-8 seconds.

Second, contract the muscle you want to stretch, and push into the stretch a little deeper (without moving) for about 6-10 seconds.

Third, Relax for one breath, then push into the stretch a little deeper for 20-30 seconds.

Relax, then repeat 2-4 times

**Be sure to warm up the body & muscles before performing this type of stretch – there is an increased risk for injuring soft tissue due to the contract/relax technique.

Check out this article for a little more detail on PNF stretching.

 

 5. Dynamic Stretching

Dynamic stretching is controlled, repetitive movements that increase flexibility. Meaning, Stretching with controlled movement. Example: Vinyasa Yoga!

It is best to do in the morning, as this type of movement resets your resting muscle length for the day.

 

6. Ballistic Stretching

Ballistic Stretching is the most dangerous out of all 6 stretches – since you are stretching while actively moving, it is not a controlled movement – it is the use of momentum of a body part to force the muscle to stretch beyond its normal range. So swinging your arms and legs forwards or backwards, or any type of bouncing movement. Think old-school workout videos 😉

 

ballistic stretch

 

Example: Swinging leg forwards and backwards with force

 

And that’s it! If you are starting from scratch and looking for ways to increase flexibility (like I was 3 years ago post-knee surgery!), this is a great place to start. Try out the different ways to stretch, and find one that is the most effective for you. I started out 3 years ago and committed to 5 minutes of passive static stretching a day. Consistency is key here, so make sure you are stretching at least 3-4 times a week in order to notice a difference in your flexibility. Practice patience, and before you know it, you will be well on your way to touch your toes… and possibly even a close cousin to gumby 😉 

Thoughts? Comments? Did I miss any good ways to stretch? Comment below!

Sources:

https://people.bath.ac.uk/masrjb/Stretch/stretching_4.html

http://www.dailybandha.com/2015/03/

http://stretchcoach.com/articles/pnf-stretching/

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