Flexibility training is a fundamental way to improve your overall health and fitness. Recently, I was teaching the employees of Regional Water Resource Agency the importance and the benefits of a good stretching program. Their physically demanding line of work puts a strain on their bodies each day.
I started out by discussing the importance of posture and body alignment when sitting and standing or lifting and hauling equipment. When I asked if they were scooping in their belly buttons, I received a deer in the head lights look from the entire group.
I explained to them if we scoop in our belly buttons and extend our spines; we are protecting our low back and spine. Pulling in the navel to the spine will help us stand up taller and elongate our spine while taking the pressure off the low back and the knees.
Besides, scooping the belly button towards the spine causes the abdominal muscles to engage and tighten. The end result is a healthy spine, outstanding posture and great looking abdominals.
Correct posture is vital to a successful stretching and exercise program. Deltoid muscles throughout the group looked a little tense. Since their deltoids seemed stressed, I asked them to press their shoulders down and away from their ears and stand tall while being mindful of keeping the navel to their spine.
Attentively, they followed my instructions and listened to the importance of body awareness and mindfulness. Within seconds of my instructions their shoulders relaxed down and their postures improved.
Our thoughts will lead our bodies, so it is significant that we maintain a mind and body connection. Being mindful of our posture along with a good stretching routine can improve posture, decrease pain, increase circulation, improve range of motion, reduce muscle tension and soreness and allow time for mental training.
Next, my instruction on posture headed for the feet. Standing slightly back into the heels of the feet and visualizing the muscles of the legs pulling the weight off the feet are helpful in relieving knee pain and tension. When each of them tried this, again their postures improved. Little adjustments in the body will bring about great gains over a period of time.
When their postures were in correct alignment we began the stretching routine for the upper body. Deep inhaling and exhaling, we prepared for each stretch. Breathing makes all the difference in a joints ability to move through a full range of motion. The breathing helps relax both the mind and the body while bringing a heightened sense of well being and personal gratification during the stretching exercise.
A complete stretching routine can take as little as 10-15 minutes. I believe that God wants each of us to represent him by standing tall and confident.
Ephesians 6:14-15 reads; Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist (the word of God along with strong abdominals), with the breastplate of righteousness in place (strong deltoids and pectorals), and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.