girl in downward dog pose

How Stretching Can Help Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Reduce Your Stress and Anxiety through Stretching

Now that we’re in the middle of a pandemic, things have no doubt gotten a lot harder than before. There’s no telling when or if life will go back to the way it was pre-pandemic. This is one of the rare eras in human history wherein the future is uncertain for everyone.

You probably spent the last months exploring all options to keep yourself and your family financially healthy. Hopefully, you’ve been giving the same level of attention to your health as well. If you haven’t, now is the best time to assess your physical and mental well-being — specifically, if stress and anxiety are plaguing your waking moments.

How Stress and Anxiety Harm Your Health

The American Brain Society calls chronic stress “the silent killer” because it leads to conditions that could develop into something more dangerous. For example, it is typical for a person who’s under stress to experience headaches and body pains. But if the stress persists, there could be another possible underlying cause: irregularity in the blood flow, which results in oxygen and nutrient deprivation in some areas of the body.

Here are some of the potentially serious conditions that medical researchers have linked to stress and anxiety:

  • Digestion problems
  • Weak immune system
  • Susceptibility to infections
  • Depression and mood disorders
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue

It’s important, therefore, to manage your stress and anxiety as quickly as possible. One way to do this (without depending on medication) is by stretching.

What Does Stretching Do for Your Body?

Harvard Medical School has published many papers and articles touting exercise as a remedy to stress and anxiety. People who exercise experience behavioral changes that are boosted by chemical production in the brain. It works this way:

  • Exercise, in general, lowers adrenaline and cortisol — stress hormones that trigger the body to go into a “flight or fight” mode.
  • Exercise stimulates the production of endorphins in the brain. Endorphins are responsible for the relaxed and positive outlook people have after completing a rigorous exercise routine or achieving their running goals (also called “runner’s high”).
  • Exercise loosens the muscles, encourages deep breathing, and improves blood circulation. These directly combat the physical symptoms of stress, such as painful back muscles, a clenched jaw, taut facial muscles, dry mouth, and tense posture. According to Harvard researchers, putting the body in a relaxed state through exercise can send calming signals to the mind. This approach can break the stress cycle and improve mental fitness.

Stretching is the ideal type of exercise because everyone can do it regardless of their fitness level. It’s a good start for those who don’t exercise, and those who already exercise a lot can still find satisfaction in it.

When you stretch, you:

  • Make your body and thoughts slow down. You can enter a meditative state and proactively reduce your mental stress.
  • Move all muscle groups, from your face to your extremities.
  • Discover the areas in your body that are tense and need more stretching.
  • Improve your balance, posture, and spinal alignment.
  • Become more aware of your mind and body.

The Best Exercise During Quarantine

One of the best things about stretching as an exercise is you can do it anytime, anywhere. With many gyms and fitness centers being closed indefinitely because of the COVID-19 pandemic, stretching is one of the few exercises that are doable in your own home — in your work chair, even.

Dedicate as much time and effort in caring for your health as you do your business. After all, you become more alert, creative, and energized to work when you’re at your peak condition.

Lockdown Live Series, Day 18

man on sofa holding his back in pain

6 Reasons Your Back Is Killing You

Nothing disrupts an otherwise productive day like persistent back pain. Even mundane tasks — sitting at your desk, getting groceries, playing with your dog — become difficult. The small area aching dully casts a huge shadow over your daily life. About 16 million American adults have to limit their activities because of persistent or chronic back pain.

This health issue is so prevalent that medical care costs amount to over $12 billion per year, including treatments, disability payments, and missed workdays.

The medical costs per person vary, though, as back pain can have several causes. Our back pain management studio in California has encountered some aches that stem from fatigue, while others signal a possibly serious condition. Here are six common reasons you experience back pain.

Your Back Is Strained or Tense

You’d think that lifting something won’t cause problems, but it is, in fact, one of the most common causes of back pain. If your lifting form is incorrect the work won’t be distributed among the muscles properly. Some muscles would work harder than they should, causing said muscle strain. It, in turn, leads to the pain.

You Have Bad Posture

Hunching while sitting or standing causes the back muscles to strain and eventually become painful. The blood supply is reduced and the muscles experience stiffness and weakness. Moreover, bad posture places too much load on the lower spinal discs, which can lead to disc herniation (more on this later).

Your Nerves Are Pinched

When the nerves in the spinal cord are impinged or irritated, it sends pain signals to the brain, causing the discomfort and aches.

A common culprit is the herniation of the disc between the bones in the lower back. As the spinal discs grow thinner (due to age), the jelly-like part of the disc bulges out and pushes against a nerve. Another possible reason is cervical spondylosis, where the discs shrink and pinch the nerves in the spinal cord.

Your physician can determine if the pain you experience is due to a disruption to the spinal nerves.

You Have Musculoskeletal Problems

If some bones and muscle groups don’t function properly, the spinal cord and peripheral nerves may be affected.

Take Myofascial Pain Syndrome, for instance. It’s a chronic pain disorder where pressure on sensitive points in the muscles causes pain and tenderness. In many cases, the pain radiates from a peripheral nerve. Your back pain could also be due to Fibromyalgia, a condition that causes widespread chronic pain and tenderness.

Infections of the spine may also cause your back pain, but these cases are uncommon.

You Sustained Injuries in an Accident

If you experience back pain after a car accident or a fall, the trauma may have caused physical problems in your back muscles and spine. You could also sustain injuries from sports that caused back pain.

The sudden acute trauma that the spinal discs or back muscles sustain causes both dull and sharp pain in the lower back. Your physician can find out the root of the problem and recommend the appropriate treatment.

You Have an Inflamed Spine or Nerves

Back pain can be attributed to simple causes like heavy lifting or bad posture. It can also be a sign of serious conditions like Ankylosing Spondylitis (the inflammation of the spinal joints, causing pain and stiffness in the spine). It often starts with lower back pain, which then spreads to the entire body.

There can be a lot of reasons behind your back pain, but one thing’s for sure — it can limit your movement and stop you from making the most of your daily routine. So, Stretch Spot will help you cope with back pain and restore your vigor to live.

Get in touch today.

Sitting Pretty: 3 Ways to Stop Back Pain When Sitting All Day

It’s sometimes unavoidable that you’ll wind up sitting on a chair for hours on end, especially if you work a desk job. You could stay comfortable staying in the same position for a little while, but all that sitting will start doing some damage.  

Sitting in an office chair all day causes or worsens existing back problems. The stationary position can increase stress on your shoulders, arms, and back and even cause increased pressure on your spinal discs. This could exacerbate conditions, such as sciatica, and cause herniated discs.

Although activities like company-sponsored wellness programs go a long way in helping your back, you have other means to find relief from pain.

Here are three ways you can reduce back pain from sitting at your desk.

1. Set Up Your Workplace Just Right

A big contributor to back pain is how your workstation is set up. The height of your chair is relative to your desk, and your computer monitor is critical in making you as comfortable as possible. If your workstation isn’t set up the right way, you’ll find yourself hunched over your keyboard, neck craned forward, and your shoulders shrugged. All of these put undue stress on your frame, which lead to back pain.

Make sure your chair and monitor are at the right height. This keeps your head at eye level, removing pressure from your neck, and your arms parallel to the ground, guaranteeing your shoulders are loose instead of hunched.

2. Sit Up the Right Way

The way you sit on your chair is just as important as its height. Good posture, even when seated, keeps your skeletal system aligned correctly. This also reduces the strain on your joints and ligaments.

When sitting, you should do so with your shoulders back and your back straight. Make sure your weight is evenly distributed on both of your hips. Press your feet flat on the floor and check that your knees are bent at right angles. Remember that when turning around, don’t twist your body at the waist. It’s better for your posture if you turn your whole body to view a different direction. Prevent muscles and joints discomfort by standing up every 30 minutes or so, and perhaps even stretch a little.

3. Stay Stretchy

Stretching conveys numerous health benefits, if you do it regularly. For example, it increases blood flow and nutrient input to your muscles, oxygenating and nourishing them to prevent atrophy.

When you’ve been seated for a long while, perhaps an hour, here are some basic stretches to reinvigorate your body.

  • Stand straight and arch your torso backward, applying pressure on your lower back. Hold position for 15-20 seconds.
  • Stay on your seat and raise your left arm over your head. Lean toward the right side until you feel your side stretch. Hold the position for 15-20 seconds. Repeat for the right arm.
  • While seated, pull up one knee to your chest until you can feel the muscles on your lower back and hip stretch. Hold it in place with both hands for 15-20 seconds. Repeat for the other knee.

You don’t have to sacrifice wellness in the workplace. By following these three tips, you can prevent your job from damaging your back and your health. When it comes to keeping your body comfortable, every little thing counts, from your chair height to your stretches.

For better results on the benefits of stretching, get guidance from the professionals.

Flexibility and Freedom

Stretch Spot can partner with companies to help your employees limber up and be free from the effects of bad posture. We offer custom-built wellness programs that can fit into your time and budget.

Contact us today and help keep your employees flexible and free.

Weak Glutes and Back Pain

back walking massage

Back Walking Massage

Imagine laying face down on the massage table with your head in the hole. The massage therapist is hovering over you and kneading your back muscles with their heels of their feet working on those pressure points in your shoulders and back. It’s not your run-of-the-mill massage, but it is one getting more and more popular because of the large number of benefits it delivers.

There is a centuries-old massage technique growing in popularity in North America, one which gives increased feeling of well-being and stress relief among other benefits. Back Walking, also known as Ashiatsu, is a bare foot massage option for anyone looking for an extremely beneficial and relaxing deep tissue massage. The word Ashiatsu is derived from ‘ashi’, which means foot, and ‘atsu’ which means pressure. This ancient Eastern massage technique involves a trained therapist using their feet to walk gently up and down the back of a client. The therapist uses pressure to manipulate the muscles through long, flowing strokes, pushing, and pulling movements. The therapist’s own body weight helps obtain a deep tissue massage much more penetrating than that performed by the hands and clients quickly feel the benefits of this type of pressure. Controlled pushing, or kneading, of the muscles can loosen even the tightest areas and can free up all the tension for months of relief. With all of this deep tissue talk a person might think it would be painful or distressing, but it’s quite the opposite. The therapist is commonly holding onto a bar positioned above their head to keep a steady and supportive posture and therefore, doesn’t allow for full bodyweight to be applied on the clients back and body. The pressure is controlled and can be eased or elevated depending on the clients needs and it is always focused on the muscles, never pushing on the joints or spine. While the client gets a deep, relaxing massage the therapist can get quite the workout as the movements are gliding and pushing, similar to a slow dance.

There are many exciting benefits from Back Walking, or Ashiatsu, deep tissue massage that will elevate your well-being and work out those problem areas. Some of the benefits include:

  • Stress relief by providing deep muscle penetration
  • Lymphatic system stimulation to help move waste products from the body
  • Improve flexibility by elongating and kneading the deep muscle fibers
  • Improves posture by reducing stress in the back and shoulder muscles
  • Releases trigger point tensions
  • Help alleviate inflammation in the joints and muscles
  • Improve overall well-being

Want to help that chronic pain, those stiff joints, and tight muscles then walk out of the ordinary massage zone and let a trained Ashiatsu massage therapist walk on you.