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Getting Ready for Rest: Mini Stretch/Relaxation

‘If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old; if it is completely flexible at 60, you are young.’

–Joseph Pilates

As we, age more stretchingmuch moreis recommended rather than less. It is crucial to elongate shortened muscles so that they return to their best resting position, and to do this often. Tight muscles influence the movement in the lower back and pelvis and can cause poor posture and/or pain, especially if the tightness is asymmetrical. Regular stretching will increase range of motion, promote circulation, and make the body feel more relaxed. If it’s done safely. Daily ‘understretching’ is better than a rare, forceful stretching session.

The fifteen-minute video at the end of this blog could become part of your getting-ready-for-bed routine. The benefits of stretching are great any time of the day, but especially before rest.  Muscles shorten over the day. Inactivity – such as prolonged sitting in front of a computer or in a car – causes muscles to tighten up. Yet so does physical activity, such as jogging, biking, and walking.

Illustration by: Ingrid MacDonald

The stretches shown in the video are safe and effective, but if any movement aggravates old pains or injuries, or doesn’t feel right in your body, leave it out or reduce the range of motion. Some movements may not be appropriate if you are recovering from a knee or hip replacement. In this short workout we use a small squishy ball, though this is optional. Notice that an underinflated small ball is best. So is a comfortable padded mat or rug. Also, if possible, a warm, quiet area where you won’t be disturbed.

Make sure your body is warm before following the video.  The best time to stretch is after performing some gentle movements, or after a bath or a shower.

Colleen Craig

Colleen Craig

Colleen is the author of Pilates on the Ball, Abs on the Ball, and Strength Training on the Ball, and the producer of the Pilates on the Ball DVD.

Disclaimer: I highly recommend you watch the video two or three times before attempting an exercise.  Listen carefully for watchpoints. Check with your doctor or health care practitioner to be sure these exercises are suitable for you. Pay attention to modifications and stop if there is any discomfort. If in doubt, avoid an exercise.

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