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Mindful Stretching to reduce stress and slow aging

Mindful stretching provides freedom from aging stress and stiffness

On July 4th we celebrated freedom in the United States. Independence from limits on what we could do with our time and energy.

Stiffness, pain, and inflammation limit health and well-being. It's just part of having a body but it does not need what defines getting older. In this article and video, I cover how to use mindful stretching to reduce stress and the stiffness of getting older

Mindful stretching to reduce stress

The stress state creates instant ‘ready to move; tension in the body. The nervous system tells muscles to be ready. Your connective tissue holds the emotions, your lymphatic system carries more inflammation to prepare you for injury.

These three systems need to be cured of that stress state or it sticks around and the result is stiffness. That stiffness signals your brain the problem is still here. It can keep you in a low-level state of chronic stress

The two-step cure for chronic stress

The two-step cure for chronic stress is to feel it and clear it Feeling it involves embodied mindful awareness, with open curiosity and the self-kindness to take action to clear it through mindful science-based movement

Part of the reason we get stuck in a stress state is that its not convenient to clear it. Yes, you know all the tips for managing stress; meditating, exercising, getting enough sleep but when you are stressed usually you are short on time.

Having an in-the-moment way to clear stress is key to curing chronic stress

Taking a deep breath or counting to ten are some in-the-moment tips for stress reduction but they are just a start. Your body is still ready to move.

Restore calm with mindful science based stretching

The power of stretching for feeling and functioning better

Stretching is the low-hanging fruit for clearing stress from the body in three ways:

1. Releasing the ready-to-move muscle tension. The stretch sensation you feel is really a muscle contraction. Stretching releases muscle tension in areas other everyday movements don’t, like in your hands, neck, and shoulders.

2. Reducing inflammation. That muscle contraction squeezes the lymphatic system to move lymph that carries inflammation to be processed in your body. Again, stretching helps do this in those little areas where inflammation can build up like the legs.

3. Restoring comfort in your body by the elasticity of the connective tissue. When holding tension and feeling stiff, your body is telling your brain there is still a threat. Connective tissue becomes stiffer when not moving, making your body feel tense. Stretching temporarily relieves this stiffness

Mindful Science-Based Stretching

The key is though, not all stretching has this wonderful stress-clearing effect.

It needs to be done

  • Mindfully - with presence because only you can feel these sensations.

  • Science-based mobility moves- moving the way you are designed so you don't increase tension and strain but restore the freedom of movement in your body

  • The intention of Self-care - move as an act of kindness with a mindset you are clearing emotions and tension. The self-care mindset keeps you willing to listen to and respond to what your body is telling you moment by moment.

The key to reducing pain with stretching

Important Note: Each of these skills are what allows you to use pain and energy as your guides, rather than seeing them as barriers. If what you're doing increases pain or lowers energy, you are moving further into a stress state. If it reduces pain and produces calm energy, you are moving further into the Well state.

mindfulness pain, fatigue and motivation

The bottom line for freedom from stiffness and stress

Mindful Mobility moments transform stretching into a resource for curing chronic stress when used as a part of the two-step cure to shift from the stress state to the well state.

Rethink stretching not as trying to get to a more flexible future state but as being well now, by clearing the stress state in small moments in your day. Enjoy more freedom from stiffness and stress.

Evidence-based sources for using mindful, movement science-based stretching to clear stress and slow aging.

Fedarko NS. The biology of aging and frailty. Clin Geriatr Med. 2011 Feb;27(1):27-37.

Santy-Tomlinson J. The musculoskeletal implications of deconditioning in older adults during and following COVID-19. Int J Orthop Trauma Nurs. 2021 Jul;42:100882.

Crofford LJ. Chronic Pain: Where the Body Meets the Brain. Trans Am Clin Climatol Assoc. 2015;126:167-83.

Schoenfeld, Brad J. MSc, CSCS, CSPS1; Contreras, Bret MA, CSCS2. Is Postexercise Muscle Soreness a Valid Indicator of Muscular Adaptations?. Strength and Conditioning Journal 35(5):p 16-21, October 2013.

Helene M. Langevin, Connective tissue: A body-wide signaling network?, Medical Hypotheses, Volume 66, Issue 6, 2006, Pages 1074-1077,

Król, M.; Kupnicka, P.; Bosiacki, M.; Chlubek, D. Mechanisms Underlying Anti-Inflammatory and Anti-Cancer Properties of Stretching—A Review. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23, 10127.

Bordoni B, Marelli F. [Emotions in Motion: Myofascial Interoception]. Complement Med Res. 2017;24(2):110-113. German. doi: 10.1159/000464149. Epub 2017 Mar 10. PMID: 28278494.

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