I know that stretching is a bit of a question mark to a lot of people. It seems so simple, and yet it is filled with mystery! Which, of course, makes it exciting, but also frustrating.

I get a lot of questions like, “Why is it that no matter how often I stretch, I’m not getting more flexible? Am I just too old?” The answer, of course, is no. You are not too old or too uncoordinated or anything of the sort.

Just as with pretty much everything else in life, time spent is important, but not nearly as important as the quality of the time spent. Right? Right.

For starters, determine what your actual goals are. Are you stretching in the morning to get your body warmed up for the day? Or are you stretching to gain lots of flexibility?

If it’s just to get moving, you can whiz through 20 or so different stretches in 15 minutes (holding each one for a minimum of 20 seconds). But if you’re going for length, you’ll need to spend significantly more time with each stretch.

For length, start with the initial easy 20 seconds, feel the softening of the muscle, hold it for another 10 seconds and then come out of the stretch. Repeat the stretch, this time holding waiting for the ease, then holding it for another 30 seconds and release. Repeat again and hold through two or three more periods of ease without coming out of the stretch. You can do this with varying intensity. BEWARE that the more you feel the “burn” of the stretch, the more sore you are going to be afterward and for the next couple of days. So, be careful, check in with yourself often and don’t try to be a hero. Just take it easy. This process takes time.

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Isabel Spradlin
Isabel Spradlin
Isabel Spradlin is a Registered Nurse (RN), Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT), and abdominal adhesion specialist in Portland, OR. She specializes in educating people about manual treatment (massage) for abdominal pain and dysfunction, especially when it is adhesion related. Please see the "Programs" page to see her offerings.

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