Chiropractor Recommended Stretching for Relieving Parental Stress
My years as a parent have taught me that stress comes with having children. I think that’s a natural part of being a parent, and it’s just something that we all have to deal with in our lives. I have tried a lot of ways to relieve that stress, but exercise and stretching were methods that I neglected for far too long. A chiropractor Lehi Utah taught me this: “There are stretches that can help to deal with stress. It works because our minds and bodies are connected, so exercises that help our body get comfortable with also comfort our brains.”
Rules for Stretching
Stretching will only help with stress if you do it right. It’s a little bit more complicated than it looks, but anyone can do it if they keep a few general rules in mind. If you make an effort to do it right the first few times, you’ll develop habits that make sure you do everything properly in the future.
The most important thing to remember is that stretching should be slow and relaxing. When you move, try to do it slowly and deliberately instead of rushing into the pose. Holding the pose instead of immediately returning to your resting position is just as important. Try to hold each position for about fifteen seconds with each stretch. You can hold them for longer if you feel like they aren’t working as well as they could, but fifteen to twenty seconds should be enough for most people.
It’s also important to understand that flexibility increases with practice, just like muscles get stronger from lifting weights. You might not be able to stretch into every position when you get started, and that isn’t a problem. Simply get as close as you can without feeling pain. You will get more flexible as you stretch, so you’ll be able to reach every position sooner or later.
Finally, remember to breath as you stretch. Do it slowly, by breathing in through the mouth and out through the nose. Focus on your breath, and count the seconds as you inhale and exhale. This is a type of meditation that can help to relieve stress on its own, but it becomes even more effective when you pair it with stretching.
Ear to Shoulder
This is one of the most basic stretches that I use when I feel tension around my neck and shoulders. You can do it while you’re sitting at a desk, so it’s a good way to get a quick refresher while at work. Start by making sure that you are sitting with proper spinal alignment. Your back and neck should be straight, but relaxed. Keep your feet on the floor with your knees bent at a right angle.
Once you get into position, bring your left hand to the top of your head. Slowly and gently tilt your head to the right, until your ear is close to touching your shoulder. Make sure that your shoulder stays relaxed while you do this. Many people instinctively raise their shoulder to touch their ear, but that reduces the length of the stretch and stops it from working. As you move your head, gently push down on it with your left hand. You should feel the muscles in the left side of your neck stretch out.
After you finish with that stretch, you should do the same thing on the other side of your neck. Use your right hand instead of your left, and move your left ear towards your left shoulder. The feeling should be similar. Doing both will ensure that every muscle in your neck gets a chance to lose tension.
You can finish your neck exercises with simple head rotations. Stay in the same sitting position, but move your hands to your sides. Slowly turn your head to look over one shoulder, and keep turning until you feel your neck muscles stretch. Make sure that your spine remains in a neutral position while you do so. Hold that position, and then repeat it while looking over the other shoulder.
Your shoulders will need some more attention, and you can do it from the same sitting position. Start by crossing your right arm over your chest. You may be tempted to grip your shoulder with your right hand, but it’s best to leave it loose and let your hand dangle.
Next, bring your left arm under your right arm and grasp your right shoulder. Be firm, but gentle, and be sure to keep your shoulders in a relaxed position. Gently apply increasing pressure until you feel your shoulder muscles start to stretch, then hold the position. Slowly release your position, and repeat the process with your other shoulder. Remember to breath properly while you do this stretch!
Finger stretching is vital for people who type or otherwise put their fingers through a lot of abuse. You can do it from any position, even while you walk, but it does take a little bit of time. I like to quietly do it when I get stuck in an elevator, or any other time when I have a little bit of space and nothing else to do.
Hold out one hand. Keeping it flat is ideal, but it doesn’t need to be perfectly level. Put your middle and index fingers from the other hand between two of your fingers on the stretching hand. Keep the fingers together at first, but slowly pull them apart once they are in position. This will push your fingers into V-shapes, and it will stretch your fingers out farther than they could under their own power.
Hold that position for the usual fifteen seconds and then move on to the next gap between your fingers. Repeat it until you have stretched all of the fingers on both hands. That requires quite a few repetitions, which is why this exercise takes longer than most of the others.
With these stretches for stress relief, you’ll find your parental stress melting away like butter, but be sure to consult your doctor if you have any medical problems that might prevent you from doing these stretches. Stretch safely and enjoy!