Flexibility and the best time to stretch

Increasing your flexibility is not restricted to any hour of the day and there are a number of remedially beneficial and constructive reasons for stretching too, which are allied to specific situations, not just for the relaxation of it.

Stretching and flexibility

Stretching for the specific purpose of improving your flexibility is a wise move, but an awareness of the time of day needs to taken into account. Your ranges of motion and muscular release abilities vary at two points in the day, namely early morning and late morning to mid afternoon onwards and care must be taken not to apply your late afternoon range of motion limitations to an early morning stretch session.

Flexibility in the morning

When you wake up in the morning, after a normal and restful night’s sleep a number of conditions are in play. Your muscular system, joints and ligaments are very relaxed.  Due to the fact you have been lying down all night, on average, each person can be up to 2cms (almost an inch) taller for the first 5-10 minutes of walking around. This is due to the opening out of the spinal column’s intervertebral discs, which have been allowed to expand and open up to their full unpressured size during the night through not having to contend with the job of supporting your posture in an upright position as they normally do during the day.

Bad back - Know wonder!

Air pressure at virtually 15lbs per square inch is bearing down upon you. It’s never something you’re actually aware of as you go about your daily business, but it equates to a pretty hefty weight to carry around. However  your amazing spine does that for you all the time, so it’s hardly surprising that when you get a ‘bad back’ of some description, it aches a lot without you appearing to do or carry anything. Only then does it become apparent, that when the back is damaged and it’s capability to manage on your behalf is compromised, you get a real awareness of how heavy ‘thin air’ can actually be to lug around!

In the first twenty minutes or so of moving around in the morning, your entire system is adjusting to air pressure on the spinal column, which conveys in turn, pressure to knee joints and feet. All this in addition to which those muscles of yours are adjusting to all your movement rhythms, which have been voluntarily almost static, all night. There will therefore be certain movement restrictions and the need to stretch out like a cat when it wakes up after a nap is commonly mimicked by us in the classic yawn and splayed arms above the head attitude.

This is a time when you need to exercise with more care if you decide to enjoy an early stretch session to loosen up for the coming day. Always bear in mind that your muscular stretch limits where those stretches are comfortably achieved will be less than the later morning or afternoon/evening.

Flexibility in the late morning

By late morning, the very vast majority of people will have moved around considerably and the body will have mobilised itself into the daily schedule. It will nearly always be capable of greater stretch ranges of motion, however small they might be, even if you are a regular flexibility devotee. However, regardless of beginner or advanced flexibility person, you need to ensure that your morning routine is not compromised by the fact that you’re thinking of imposing your ‘later day’ flexibility limits on yourself very early in your day.

The annoying ache

Always try to stretch with your eyes closed and concentrate on feeling the release, which should be nothing more than what I term an ‘AA’ which stands for an annoying ache. This level helps to overcome the distinct possibility that if a person stretches at too gentle a ‘feel’ in the muscles in order to be sure they don’t overdo matters, the danger of not actually creating a positive stretch development can actually occur.

The ‘AA’ point is a guarantee of achieving, but not overly exerting and remember your ‘AA’ point will vary day to day, so ‘listen’ to it carefully. Closing your eyes will enable you to avoid being encourage to fix your vision on a set point and be possibly distracted or misguided by what is the correct ‘AA’ point for you at that time and moment.

Flexibility through stretching is also a great ally in the battle against muscular soreness after strenuous exercise, known as DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) because it often kicks in 24 hrs after the activity. It is instrumental in easing stiffness in the muscles after literally any prolonged exercise; from football, gardening, roller painting the ceiling or running a marathon, it always ‘hits the spot’ and aids those sighs of relief!

This article is courtesy of Alan Gordon

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