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Will Stretching Exercises Manage Stress?

Will stretching exercises really help manage stress?

That’s a great question!  One that my students ask all the time.  Want to know the answer?  Good, you’ll be glad that you asked.

But first, let’s find out why.  Dancers go to technique classes to train their bodies to move with style and graceful strength.  Gymnasts also work to train their bodies to move with explosive power and strength. Yoga practicioners also push their bodies into massive stretches.

These performers push themselves far beyond the limits of normal activity and as a result need to ensure that their muscles will support this massive activity.   Can you imagine the idea of jumping on the dance floor or mat and going full out on a routine without doing any stretching exercise?  Ouch!

Talk about sore, ripped, stressed muscles!  Not to mention a poor performance!  What, you ask…dancers are not born that way?  Although it might seem so, dancers and gymnasts spend literally YEARS stretching and practicing and stretching and training and yes, more stretching.  Yoga practicioners also spend hours involved in stretching exercises.  And for what purpose?  To protect their muscles and bodies.

Ready for the answer?  Does stretching exercises really help manage stress?

Ask any dancer or yoga enthusiast how they feel after their practice – at least 90% will tell you they are so much LESS STRESSED!

Here are the top reasons why stretching and/or yoga poses will help manage stress:

  • allows for elasticity in the muscles.  This elasticity will also provide a safety net against accidents.
  • massages lactic acid build up in the muscles.  Lactic acid can create sore, clogged muscles
  • breathing associated with stretching also invigorates the lungs and oxygenates the brain
  • stretching helps the body re-align in better posture – which allows for better communication throughout the nervous system
  • muscles that have gained more elacticity will support the skeletal system, eliminating the stress of poor posture

Now, you might be wondering …..which stretching exercises are the best for calming stress and tension?  Here are a few stretches that you can do from your chair, standing, on the floor that research has shown will improve your management of your stress:

  • Standing and reaching arms toward ceiling.  Add a big yawn for fun
  • Sitting or standing and reaching your hands toward your feet (yawning is good here too).  See how far you can reach- knees, ankles, toes….
  • Curl up on the floor (or chair) facing the floor with your arms wrapped around your knees/legs.  Feel the joy of being childlike.

One word of caution…stretching exercise or yoga poses are NOT about having a contest with anyone else for how much and how deep you can stretch.  Each exercise has a purpose and intention to benefit only you and each day your body’s ability is unique in terms of its abilities and stress levels.

Let each day be a journey of purposeful intention.  Adding a short phrase of how you want your day to go or an affirmation will also powerfully impact how you react to your stresses.  For some examples of phrases or affirmations just click here to sign up with your best email.

To your de-stressed joy,

To Your Balanced Twirling,

Dr Wendy Guess,
Life Choreographer
Dr Wendy Guess
Dr Wendy Guess
Drawing on the fields of marketing, anthropology, health, wellness and dance along with some wacky life adventures, Dr. Guess shares inspiring and do-able healthy change and healthy marketing. She consults, travels and coordinates the Health and Fitness Marketing Certificate program at FIU.

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