We’ve expressed our love for stretching before and it’s time to reiterate - being flexible will improve your daily life. Moreover, stretching is relaxing and I find that it helps calm the mind.
One of our top stretches is the dowel stretch. The assisting partner must position their feet at the base of the stretchee’s spine with their other foot neatly placed between the shoulder blades. The stretchee will grab the dowel overhand and let their partner pull back on the dowel until they feel a nice, intense stretch in the chest. This stretch should go on for around 5 minutes and includes multiple phases of contraction and relaxation.
Relaxation is always key when stretching. Limitations in flexibility are usually caused by precautionary neural pathways rather than by mechanically short muscles. The brain acts to prevent movements into unexplored ranges in fear of what will happen there. Somebody under general anaesthetic will often become incredibly flexible due to these neural inhibitions being quietened. Stretching is therefore really more of a mind game than anything. You must be able to convince your own brain that a position is safe by simply relaxing there... It’s a literal case of mind over matter.
Grab a friend, grab a dowel and try out this stretch! Opening up the chest is important for posture, negating back pain, gaining functional movement and preventing injury.
If you don’t have time to stretch, just relax anyway