When people consider improving their fatigue with diet and lifestyle they very rarely consider the benefits of simple stretching. Stretching can help you with fatigue while increasing your balance, strength, and flexibility. Stretching for flexibility especially is beneficial in all aspects of your life.
Illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia involve symptoms of prolonged fatigue, pain, and other symptoms that may impair the ability to do daily activities and can lead to an inactive lifestyle. In turn, being inactive can increase your level of fatigue and pain, lead to deconditioning of the body, make you more prone to injury, and put you at risk for other more severe health problems.
Why You Shouldn’t Overlook Stretching
Stretching has so many benefits. At all levels, there are stretches that can be done to help increase your flexibility and strength, and even your balance. This helps you avoid injuries, feel limber, and give you more range of motion and energy. Most importantly it reduces fatigue and improves your mood because of the flood of happy chemicals you receive.
If you have chronic fatigue and pain, your body has probably already adapted to what is called a “pain cycle.” Pain cycles begin when you move your body or obtain a specific posture to avoid pain. Most often
this causes you to move in a distorted way, and poor posture and unbalanced motion create more pain and possibly recurring injury.
Exiting your pain cycle can be difficult at first, especially if the body has been in the cycle for a long time. Sometimes people feel like any attempts at exercise are met with a flare-up pain or worse symptoms so it feels better to rest and avoid being active.
This is not the case. Even if there is more discomfort, in the beginning, re-training your body and remaining active will help long-term. Graded aerobic exercise is a first step in breaking the pain cycle,
reducing pain and injury, and becoming more fit.
Recent research studies with patients that had either chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia have reported that moderate exercise decreased fatigue, pain, stress, and symptoms. At the same time, it improved health perceptions, physical function, and aerobic fitness.
Some studies have also shown that low-intensity exercise like walking and pool exercises improved symptoms and ability to do daily activities. As a result of low-intensity exercise, people reported less joint and muscle pain.
How Stretching and Flexibility Helps Your Movement
Stretching your muscles is a great way to prepare them for workouts of any kind, and is also a great way to cool down from a workout. Stretching before and after workouts helps work out lactic acid, prevents injury, and helps you feel less sore. Not to mention that the added flexibility will help you get the most out of your workouts.
Movement has benefits for everyone so make the commitment to yourself to get started. You will feel better, and you will feel better about yourself.
Exercise must be started slowly and increased gradually. Performing a strenuous exercise if you have not been physically active is not advised and may aggravate symptoms. Some fatigue and soreness are normal when starting but not pain. You should avoid any level of activity that you find increases your fatigue or any of your other symptoms to a level that is uncomfortable.
GETTING STARTED WITH DECREASING YOUR FATIGUE
To begin a program, start by just gradually increasing your daily activity. For example, use any opportunity you have to do some extra standing, walking or dancing. Other things you can do include:
• Take the stairs whenever you can.
• Get up more often and do some tasks around your home.
• Limit your television and excessive computer/video game use (as this promotes inactivity).
If you are in chronic pain then start with simple calm movements of the hands, feet, neck and head. When it is easy to get out of a chair or bed then try these stretches. Read through them and decide which to try, again this is not to cause pain. If it hurts stop and rest. Rub the sore area and ice it for 15 to 20 minutes if the gentle rub does not work.
Keys to Painfree Stretching
Why you stretch is to regain flexibility lost because of pain, inactivity or injury. Think about a cat or dog that naturally stretch, calmly and enjoying it.
Do not bounce when stretching
Move twice as slowly as you think you are able
When possible hold stretches for 20 seconds
At the slightest pain back off the stretch; stretch to the point of gentle resistance.
Proper posture and body alignment help avoid injury so don’t throw your head around.
Keep even breathing during stretches. Begin and end exercise session with five to ten or more deep slow breathes.
Many short sessions seem to work better than a few long sessions for painfree living. Try 6 stretches 6 times a day then 36 all at once. Think like a cat or dog.
Great Stretches for Flexibility
* Lunge Stretches – Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands on your hips. Step out wide with one foot, and then bend that knee, bringing the back leg down against the ground. Get as close to the ground as you can, trying to touch your shin to the ground. Hold this pose and then repeat on the opposite leg.
* Seated Twists – Sit on the ground with your feet out in front of you and then twist your torso to one side. Then bring your arms around to help pull your torso into a good twist. Hold this pose and then repeat on the opposite side. You can also do a second variation of this stretch with your legs folded “criss-cross”.
* Folding Stretch – Stand up straight with your feet just slightly apart. Keeping your posture straight, bend at the waist and try to hug your knees. If you are not quite at that level, just try to touch your toes or use blocks or the bottom stair to stretch as far as possible.
* Butterflies – Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you. Bring your legs in and touch the bottoms of your feet together, knees bent outward. Keeping your knees as flat on the ground as possible, grab your feet and try to bring them closer to your body. Without straining yourself, bounce your knees up and down a bit.
* Yoga Poses – There are a huge amount of yoga poses that are aimed specifically at increasing your flexibility. Two of these poses are called “baby cobra” and “downward facing dog”.
* Baby Cobra – Lie face down on the ground with your arms near your head, palms on the ground. Use your hands to push the top portion of your body off the ground, curving your spine backward and looking up to the sky.
* Downward Facing Dog – Start in push-up position, and then push your arms up, folding your body in half so your bottom is up in the air and your head and arms are down. Your heels should be flat on the ground, stretching your entire body.
* Behind the Head Elbow Stretch – In either a sitting or standing position, simply reach one arm behind your head. Using the opposite arm, grab your elbow and press to increase the stretch. Hold the stretch and repeat on the opposite side.
Stretching for flexibility will empower your selfhealing. It helps with all facets of your healthy lifestyle. It is never too late to begin an exercise program or experience the many benefits of exercise- take the next steps to get started today!
These stretches alone will be beneficial for your whole body and daily life, and when paired with your exercise routine will make a huge difference.