Common question 'how long will it take to get flexible?'..
Fact: flexibility is probably the quickest change you'll notice in your body. I'm not saying you'll be able to get into the splits in a day, but after every session your body and mind feels SO MUCH better.
Rather than focusing on how long it will take you to reach a goal... how about you enjoy what you're doing right NOW! Because really.. that's all we have. A big long list of NOW moments.
The main reasons I stretch?
- To regain youthfulness when I wake up in an 87 year old's body and can't bend over - after 30 mins of stretching I can usually shed about 62 years and begin feeling myself again. This is only when my back has seized up. Usually there isn't much of an age gap, but it always makes my body feel 10x better than when I started.
- Calm the crazy. Dad's words 'you're much nicer to be around when you stretch often'. Cheers Dad. It's true though. If I've been avoiding my mat... you should probably avoid me.
- Anxiety, stress, or any stuck in a rut vibes going on. Even visualising myself laying on the floor having a stretch, imagining my chest rising and falling with each breath instantly calms me. It's like the heavy weight that sits on my chest starts to dissolve and I can breathe more freely... Close your eyes. You feel that too? Well it's even more effective when you actually do it ;)
Here are some great before and after pics from a recent and very official Elle Fit Active study that highlights the benefits of stretching.
As you can see in the above picture, the results are incredible.
Tin man morphed into Gumby with just one session of Get Bendy & Get Split stretching.
Another #goals before and after pic to print out and post above your bed. Before stretching she felt like long life uncooked pasta. After? Delicious home made cooked pasta. All within 30 mins of stretching!
Now for some more serious stuff...
87 year old vs 25 year old!! 30 mins of stretching and 62 years gone, tata! If you feel like the top picture when you wake up due to tight hammies and glutes - treat yo'self to a stretch. Your body does so much for you. Time to give back!
If you want lots of yummy lower body stretches, grab a copy of Get Split.
You will need this guide for an exciting challenge beginning 1 May!!
READ THIS ONE!!
If your back pain feels skeletal (ie. pelvis, sacrum, spine) stretching may not be able to relieve it. The morning I took these photos I was not in a good way. This happens maybe once every 2 months or so if I've been busy and haven't made time to stretch regularly. It's all about maintenance when you have scoliosis. If I'm on the ball, I don't get any back pain!
30 mins of stretching allowed my hamstrings to let go and take the tension out of my lower back - obviously a huge difference as you can see in the photos but I was still having a lot of pain in the lumbar region, sacrum and pelvis. I booked a chiro appt that morning for an adjustment and by that afternoon I was back in tip top shape.
This is my approach to dealing with back pain - especially having scoliosis, because my back requires regular adjustments as the curve throws everything out...
Stretch - for muscles
Chiropractor (or similar) - for skeleton
Once you have that in your head you'll realise that you need to take a holistic approach to pain and pain management. Make sure you're looking after every system in your body! Muscular, skeletal, nervous, respiratory, digestive! THEY ALL WORK TOGETHER. If something is wrong with one of them, it effects everything.
Be patient. A lot of leg stretches take time! Why? When you're stretching a muscle the stretchy muscle fibers with blood supply can get that nice lengthening and releasing feeling relatively easily. But when you're tapping into the harder stuff like connective tissue (the white harder stuff that doesn't get much blood supply), you need to be patient. Try staying in this frog position for 15mins and track your progress. Be gentle, patient and breathe. Although these areas might feel like they'll never release, they will - it just takes longer.
Amazing before and after stretching progress pic. Read all about @adventures_of_abigail.
'Whilst I found yoga around 4 years ago after 2 car accidents in 3 months (severe whiplash, torn shoulder ligaments - I found I have a very weak core) I get lazy, I'll focus on my practice till I'm flexible/bikini ready and then I'll go back to full time work and full time study sitting at a desk for 16hrs a day. A bit like getting excited about finally getting abs and then not going to the gym again for yonks (I've also done this). I walk a lot with travelling and when I get home, I literally can't move past the photo on the left because my hamstrings are so tight. So I stretch for minimum an hour. I tend to sit leg stretches for longer than 10min at a time per leg. I do the Get Bendy for an hour and then the Get Split for another hour. When I'm more confident with my strength I'll start using the inversion guide I have from Elle's guides. If it wasn't for finding @ellefitactive guides my body would feel like a very unhealthy 80yr old daily. Thank you Elle x'
I hope this blog has helped you understand a bit more about how quickly you can turn your pain (or perhaps even some problems) around. My passion is not to help people become contortionists, but to deal with the daily grind and things that good old life likes to throw at us.
3 years ago when I felt crippled from my back pain, was an anxious stress ball every day and too poor to afford daily yoga classes (does anyone honestly have a budget for that) I wished there was an affordable way to help me stretch at home. That's why I created the guides. I wanted something I couldn't find so I created it. And I HOPE THEY CAN HELP YOU TOO :D The ability for me to reduce my anxiety and stress whilst stretching was just an awesome unexpected bonus (BIG bonus).