Stretches Increase Flexibility

Stretches Increase Flexibility

In our previous article we discussed how Breathing Exercises Increase Lung Capacity. Now that we can inhale a substantial amount of oxygen into our lungs, hold it for a good length of time, and exhale at a controlled pace we can move on to the next step in our quest for good health. Stretches Increase Flexibility or, moving the body through its Full Range of Motion.

The Path to Good Health

The path to good health requires we “Reconnect the Conscious Thinking Brain with the Physical Body, through Focus, Breath, and Full Range of Motion.”

We have reconnected with our diaphragm and use it to nourish our bodies with copious amounts of oxygen. Now, we can direct that oxygen to the parts of our body where we want to Move through Restrictions and Increase Flexibility to become more of who we are, and less of who we are not.

Focus the Brain & Direct the Breath for Isometric Contraction

Let’s begin by focusing the mind on the pelvic area. Direct the breath, chi, prana, whatever you choose to call it, in a slow, steady inhale.

Visualize the oxygenated blood engorging your pelvis. Feel the muscles surrounding the arteries relax, and blood vessels expand. See the plump, pillowy, red blood cells, and vitamins, and nutrients clamor to nourish the muscles of the pelvis.

Buddha statue

Engorged with life giving fluid, begin a slow, controlled exhale, contracting one muscle at a time.

Start with the anus muscle, then the testicular for men, kegel for women, then the lower abdominal, then the lower back, then the right gluteal, finally the left gluteal.

Squeeze until all the blood and oxygen is gone.

Now, slowly begin to inhale, releasing one muscle at a time, directing the blood to engorge that muscle, then the next, and next, until the pelvis is flooded with life giving oxygen and nutrients again.

Create a conscious connection with each muscle in your pelvis, paying close attention to the lower back muscles. Repeat as many times as you can maintain conscious awareness.

Now move up to the neck and shoulders and repeat. Focus the mind on the Trapezius, Splenius Capitus, Sternocleidomastoid, and Scalenes. Direct the blood to engorge the muscles, and exhale contracting one muscle at a time. Repeat until satisfied.

At this stage we are reconnecting the conscious thinking brain with the muscles surrounding the spine using “Isometric Contraction” (muscle contraction, without moving bones). Next we will begin full range of motion by flexing and extending the spine from cranium to coccyx.

Importance of a Flexible Spine for Good Health

Flexible-Spine

We are beginning our flexibility training with the spine because of its paramount importance to good health. We relate to our internal and external environment through the nerve system. Our brain receives information from the nerves. It then determines the best course of action, and sends the messages to the appropriate organelles on what to do thus maintaining us in good health.

The brain sits in the skull, then goes down through the holes in the back bones and is now called the spinal cord. As the cord descends nerve roots emerge between each of the vertebra (movable bones of the spine).

Millions of nerves in each nerve root go to all parts of your body; the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, muscles, bones, everything. From the top of your head to the bottom of your feet, your brain is communicating through the nerve system to keep you as healthy as you can be.

There are occasions where the bones in the back will shift out of place and cause miscommunication between the brain and the body, and the body back to the brain. If it is severe enough when it first happens, or if left there long enough, symptoms occur.

These symptoms can be a gazillion different things.

  • The heart can beat too fast.
  • The heart can beat to slow.
  • Too much acid can be made in the stomach.
  • It can cause pain in the back, down the legs, up in the head, down the arms. etc.

All kinds of symptoms can happen if bones shift out of place in the spine.

The nerve system is housed in the spine. We relate to our internal (organs, endocrine system, muscles, etc.), and external (sounds, smells, sight, etc.) environment through the nerve system.

It stands to reason, if the bones in the spine are supple, moving freely, normally with healthy flexibility the nerve system will provide high quality information going to and from the brain.

Ill Health Resulting from Restriction of Movement

However, if the bones are out of place, restricting freedom of normal movement, causing inflammation in the joints, putting pressure on the nerve roots, disrupting the quality of information going to and from the brain, quality of life will be diminished, and be unable to function at optimum.

light bulb

Think of a dimmer switch on the wall of your office. The light bulb in the fixture has the capacity to brightly shine light in the room at a hundred watts of power, allowing you to read your work with clarity.

One day you enter the room, turn on the switch, and the light is not functioning as brightly as you once remembered. Not so bad you can’t do your work, just not as expressive as you recall. So you ignore the situation.

A few weeks or months go by and you turn on the light again. This time the light is so dim you cannot see the words on the page. You cannot get your work done.

The problem you ignored for so long is now causing you distress and something must be done about it.

You reason there must be something wrong with the light bulb. To remedy the symptom of poor lighting you get out the ladder and unscrew the light bulb and inspect it. It seems to be okay, so you replace it and ponder the situation.

Finally, it dawns on you, perhaps the electricity that animates the bulb is restricted from allowing to bulb to function at its optimum. So, moving to the switch you adjust it to its proper position allowing the free flow of information to reach the bulb, and “Wha-la,” the light is shining brightly again.

In much the same way, connecting the conscious thinking brain with the bones, joints and muscles of the spine, moving them through their full range of motion, encouraging their proper position and function will allow the free flow of information going to and from the brain, resulting in the highest quality, brightest shining you, you can be.

Focus, Breath, Full Range of Motion

Okay, back to the increased flexibility which increases health.

Begin by reconnecting with isometric contractions as a way of getting to know each of the muscles surrounding the spine.

Now let’s move on to the Full Range of Motion part, using the simplest motion for the spine, flexion and, extension.

Place both hands, and both knees on a mat, bench, bed, or any flat, level surface, like you are going to give a horsey ride to a child.

Manduka

Now, flex your spine from cranium to coccyx; chin to chest, tailbone toward chin, like a cat rising from a nap.

Focus your brain, directing the breath to the body part that is moving. Slowly breathe into the tailbone releasing the flexed position and move through its “Full Range of Motion” in extension; rising toward the ceiling.

Continue by focusing the breath on the next bone in the spine (5th Lumbar vertebra), then the next, rolling all the way up the spine to the head. Focused breath leading the movement. If you have to stop for another breath, or, several do so.

Now, reverse direction. Focus, directing the breath to the sacrum and flex, follow the breath with focus and full range of motion up the spine, flexing each vertebra,

Reconnecting the Conscious Thinking Brain with the Physical Body through, Focus, Breath, Full Range of Motion.”

Doc Milligan

Connection?

You will likely discover entire sections of the spine that no matter how much you focus on, there is no connection. That is okay. With time, you can develop a connection. That is why we are spending time and effort flexibility training.

The process is similar to a novice starting to play the piano. In the beginning the brain has little awareness of the fingers. Over time, with practiced study the connection grows, and soon they are playing concerts to applauding fans.

We have learned that stretches increase flexibility which leads to improved health. We have introduced the beginnings of a stretching program.

Join us in our next article for an example of a Full Body Stretching Program, where where we will describe body postures to adopt as an effective method to improve skeletal structure. After all, Structure Dictates Function, and we want the highest quality function our bodies can produce for our improving health.

If you have and questions or want to leave a comment please do in the box below. Also feel free to like and share of your favorite social media. Thanks!

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This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. Wow Doc, we never realise the intricacies of our body with millions of cells and neurons performing their functions so efficiently. Its only when we are in pain, we realise we need to take care of our body and should perform breathing exercises to nourish the cells. I agree with the fact that mind is connected with the body as I look forward to reading more of your posts on breath and body exercises to keep fit.

    1. Thanks Rudolph. Yes the human body is an amazing thing it never ceases to impress.

  2. Hi Doc. Another great article. I will have to do a search to see where some of the muscles are that you refer to, like the Splenius Capitus, Sternocleidomastoid, and Scalenes. I like your analogy of a light bulb dimming as our energy flow is disrupted due to tensions within our bodies. I know exactly what you are referring to, and have spent many a session with osteopaths to try to free up the restricted areas. I will follow your instructions and use my breath to play a bigger part in my bodies maintenance.
    Kind regards
    Andrew

    1. Thanks again Andrew and no doubt focusing breath to those restricted areas will continue to take you further and further along your path to good health.

  3. I’ve already done a lot of breathing exercises and meditations. But the isometric contraction exercise is not only new to me, but also sounds fascinating. I will definitely try it out. Thanks for sharing this.

    1. It’s an amazing part about health no matter how much we know there is always something new to learn. And it’s fun to lean and try new things, some can be life changing.

  4. Hi Doc 🙂

    I really enjoyed reading your article. It made me feel calm from beginning to end.

    I usually have lower back pain and I’m always on the look out for non medicative solutions.The paragraph about the spine really touched base with me.

    I’m looking forward to learning more from you 🙂

    Thank you,

    Lolina

    1. Hi Lolina, Wow, great to see you here. Thank you for your kind words. May I suggest you begin at Step 1 Breathe, and work your way towards Stretches Increase Flexibility. I will be interested in your experience, if you could keep me in the loop. Hiking the hills packing your gear may require some daily preparation, especially as time passes. All the Best, Doc

  5. Thanks Dr for your time and efforts in letting some of us that are not in this your field have a good taste of what the designer of human being invested in each and every human being irrespective of tribe, tongue or religious inclinations!

    1. Hi David, I appreciate your taking the time to comment. We humans are a most magnificent design. I dare say the most complex organism around if you include the brain. We don’t come with an owners manual so maintaining our physical bodies can be daunting. That which animates this bag of bones has been conjectured for eons. Whatever “it” is, is using the physical to manifest its expression. Devoting 45 minutes a day deepening the connection of the conscious thinking brain with the physical body seems a worthy action to ensure vibrant expression of it. Irrespective of tribe, tongue or religious inclinations, we all of us are human.

  6. Great post. It is interesting to hear how important stretching and taking care of your body can be. The breathing techniques are great for stretching also!

    1. They certainly go hand in hand!! While you stretch you will be breathing through your restrictions.

      I have found it really does make a difference when you want to dig a little deeper to exhale and repeat until you’ve found your new boundary. I’ve been doing this a long time and feel I’ve developed a very efficient way to achieve a high level of health. Glad to know you’re enjoying the article please let me know how your sessions are going as you continue to move through to new places.

  7. Hi Doc,
    Great post,thank you for sharing this.I will follow your site so i can learn more.

    1. Thanks I look forward to hearing all about your progress in the future.

  8. Hello Doc,
    Thank you so much for this site,its a big help to me.I enjoy reading your article specially i do yoga.I follow you so that i can learn more from you.
    Bella

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