Do you find stretching just doesn’t seem to make any difference to your flexibility?
If you answered yes to both of these questions then listen up as this article might help solve your problems!
A bit of background info
The sympathetic nervous system prepares the body for intense activity and is often referred to as the flight or flight response. The parasympathetic nervous system has almost the exact opposite effect and relaxes the body. We need both of these systems working equally for us to be healthy, perform optimally and remain injury free. However the problem occurs when one system becomes dominant. Stress, physical (from high intensity training) and emotional (from work) to name just a couple from a long list, stimulate our sympathetic system, and unfortunately most of us find ourselves stuck in this stressed fight or flight state unable to relax, recover and switch to a parasympathetic state.
So how does this relate to stretching?
In this constantly stressed state, our bodies and muscles are neurologically tight. In other words we carry tension in our muscles, which then hold us in these bad postural positions and we feel tight. Our tightness is not due to muscle length problems at all so stretching won’t solve your problem.
What can you do if this sounds like you?
We need to relax the nervous system in order to decrease the tension we are holding in the muscles so we gain range of motion.
1) Avoid overtraining or underrecovering! Make sure your training plan allows adequate rest.
2) Don’t skip the cool down! The cool down starts the recovery proces and is vital in switching off the sympathetic nervous system and turning in the parasympathetic one.
3) Foam Rolling. Gentle pressure can trick the brain into letting go of artificial tension to help restore optimal muscle length and tension to improve movement.
4) Take deep belly breaths. Breathing deeply and slowly encourages the parasympathetic nervous system to take over. This can progress to meditation if it feels right for you.
5) Well balanced diet. Ensuring adequate protein will help balance your mood, not to mention the benefits of nutrients and minerals from fresh vegetables to help manage your stress.
If you are still struggling to balance training, work and life then please feel free to message me for advice. My training plans are bespoke to you the individual, and I adjust training loads if external stresses such as work, lack of sleep effect your recovery. Your health is the most important thing. A healthy body will allow you to achieve your goals