Following on from Ann’s blog Life Lessons from a Terrier, I have been thinking about other lessons we can learn from our pets. In particular, I’ve noticed how our pets are often much better at muscle care than we are. Have you noticed how most mammals – whether pets or wild animals - nearly always have a good stretch when they first get up from rest or sleep? They instinctively know that the switch from a period of inactivity to one of activity needs a good stretch to get the body ready. In contrast, people often get out of the habit of natural stretching – the sort that often accompanies a good yawn.
Many people get straight out of bed and start their day without stretching at all. Likewise, many spend hours driving or using a computer without having a proper stretch at regular intervals. It’s even seen as unusual behaviour nowadays to take time to do this natural form of stretching. However, stretching performs a really important function. When we’re inactive for a long time, it’s not just the muscles that are being held in one position – it’s the fascia, the tissue that surrounds the muscles and organs, that also stays still.
In fact, it is this fascia that most benefits from a good stretch. When constantly left inactive and in one position it can become stiffer and less elastic. This then restricts the muscles which feel stiff as a result. Eventually, it can lead to pain and discomfort. Luckily, fascial stiffness responds well to certain bodywork techniques. Then, the fascia and muscles can be kept supple through regular movement, including stretching.
So, why not have a good stretch now – go gently if you haven’t stretched for years, it shouldn’t be uncomfortable. Make it a regular habit. If things feel too tight and inflexible then consider some myofascial release therapy – a type of specialist massage that addresses the problem alongside other massage techniques.
I offer specialised physical therapies including massage and myofascial release work in Leicestershire. Contact me to discover how I might help you improve your mobility and decrease stiffness and pain.