by Mary Louise;Town Jaqua, Health Minister
Animals do it and so do humans. It is called stretching!
Stretching is an instinctive movement of the body that
activates the life force within. What might be described
as a 'mini fitness break', stretching is spontaneous,
normal, and most of all, healthy!
Why do we stretch?
Because of their simplicity and/or involuntary nature,
many functions of the body are often overlooked or
discounted as unimportant. Stretching can be one of
those functions, however, that begs attention if not
explanation, since the body naturally stretches for
good reason. When the body becomes inactive for
a given amount of time, muscles contract, circulation
slows down, and oxygen supply is compromised.
In an effort to revive, the body instinctively 'recharges'
itself by stretching! Hence, it is no surprise that we
stretch upon awakening from sleep or when we sit
or stand in one place for long periods of time.
Stretching is thus the body's natural way to reactivate
its vital energy.
The body is a living machine that is designed to perform
many life-sustaining activities. Often regarded as a living
work of art, YHVH Almighty fashioned the frame of man
to be healthy, strong, and prosperous. Much like a car,
the body was designed to function in a specific manner
for the sake of longevity.
As the body ages, however, critical malfunctions can
eventuate. Vital systems become subject to breakdowns,
necessitating repair and 'body work.' Without proper
maintenance, the body's 'warranty' is compromised if
not canceled. Thus quality of life is the direct result of
how well the body's needs are met on a daily basis.
Exercise is critical for the body's well being and one
of the basic, fundamental expressions of exercise is
Stretching: the benefits
By reason of its age, a young body is typically strong,
flexible, well coordinated, enjoys good circulation and
a wide range of motion. While these characteristics are
attributed to youth, they need not be limited thereby.
Fitness is not related to age but to mind-set. In order to
maintain youthful vigor, the body must be disciplined
or trained to remain young! Stretching can accomplish
1. Increasing flexibility and joint range of
motion. Flexible muscles improve body perform-
ance. With age muscles tighten but they can be
elongated again to regain elasticity, allowing the
body to move freely.
2. Improving circulation
Stretching increases blood flow to muscles and
joints. Blood flowing throughout the body brings
nourishment to cells and releases/eliminates
3. Increasing energy level
Improved circulation elevates the body's oxygen
level which in turn increases energy, since cells
are properly fed and the body's inate ability to
heal itself is facilitated. Increased oxygen speeds
healing of injured muscles, organs, etc. and
revitalizes the entire body. The primary nutrients
needed by the body are 94% oxygen and 6% food.
4. Improving posture
Chronically tense and tight muscles contribute
to poor posture which in turn can affect the
functioning of internal organs as well as the
body's appearance. Stretching the muscles
of the lower back, shoulders, and chest can
help keep the back in better alignment and
thus improve posture. Good posture minimizes
discomfort and keep aches/pains at a minimum.
5. Providing relaxation and stress relief
Stretching relaxes tight, tense muscles that often
accompany stress. Relaxation brings a sense of
well-being and relief from tension.
6. Enhancing coordination:
Maintaining full range-of-motion aids in better
balance. Coordination and balance increase
mobility and reduce likelihood of injury from falls,
especially as the body ages.
7. Reducing or preventing lower back pain
Greater flexibility and range of motion in the
hamstrings and muscles of the hips and pelvis
help to reduce stress on the spine that causes
lower back pain.
8. Providing an overall sense of well being
Improving the body's physical performance is
known to increase emotional stability and
mental clarity, both of which contribute to
positive self-esteem and a healthy outlook.
Even a short amount of time (10-15 minutes)
of stretching can calm the mind, providing a
mental break that gives the body a chance
In light of the above benefits, stretching is known to
improve or completely solve a wide range of health
problems such as headaches, sciatica, back and
neck pain, insomnia, depression, arthritis, osteoperosis,
fibromyalgia, and nervous disorders. Likewise stretching
is known to support cardiovascular health by improving
artery function and lowering blood pressure. Read an
inspiring stretching testimony here.
Stretching: where and how to begin
Beginning a stretching program usually requires a
minimum of strategy and equipment. Considerations
- When to stretch- choose a time of day that is
convenient, keeping in mind that mornings are
preferable, since the body is in a detoxifying
- Where to stretch- choose a place that is well
suited to exercise without being cramped by
- What stretches to do- choose simple
stretches that are comfortable to perform.
- How often to stretch- decide frequency of
stretching, i.e. daily, weekly?
As with any worthwhile activity, research and begin
slowly to implement. A few stretches per day can
pay great dividends. As the body comes alive, it
will hunger for more stretching and tell you what it
wants, when it wants it, and how much. Building
your stretching routine thus becomes a personal
discovery into a new you. Therefore take your time
and enjoy the journey! Learn basic stretches here.
For those who prefer not to stretch alone, consider
stretching with family or friends. Group stretching is
often the inspiration needed to begin establishing
a routine. Professional trainers/coaches are also
available through local fitness centers. Stretching
classes are often offered through Adult Education
workshops. No matter the venue, make sure that
the stretching program that you choose is both
convenient and comfortable.
When young, going out to play or having recess
was a natural part of life that afforded freedom to
run, jump, and stretch to our heart's content. Little
did we realize the importance of that exercise! With
age, however, the options for recess and play time
have all but disappeared, being buried in the avalanche
of the great American, fast- track lifestyle. With
'so much to do in so little time,' how will we survive?
The answers to life's questions are surprisingly
simple. Nevertheless, we must be willing to hear,
accept, and implement the changes necessary
to preserve our lives. In the end, what we value
the most will prove our worth. When it comes to
personal health, pursuing what is best for the
body should be a priority. After all, health is wealth.
Health cannot be purchased. It is earned.
Therefore, exercise your way to excellent,
vibrant health by strrrrrrrrrrretching every day!
You can do it!
I can do all things through Messiah
which strengtheneth me.
References and resources:
Heart of Healing
How to Stretch
Your Body Your Responsibility (includes bonus DVD: Total Body Stretching)
by Douglas Splittgerber and Debra M. Corbo
Stretching- by Jacques Gauthier and Dorothee Lavoie
A healing Story: Jacques Gauthier's personal testimony
Stretching Exercises for Beginners
Fit 10: Ten Minute Exercise Program
Professional Stretching Programs
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