Got pain? Limited in the ways you can move your body? It’s because your muscles are tight and they are carrying stress and tension. Trainers Cheryl Coppa and Sabrina Marr bring you all their secret stretching techniques to relieve stress-related pain and increase flexibility
By Cheryl Coppa
We all have stress - physical and mental, and BOTH affect our muscles. I’m sure you can identify exactly where you carry stress in your body. Do you get tension headaches? Nagging neck pain, upper back/ shoulder pain, lower back pain, sciatica?
When you have stressed your whole body tenses, and unless you release it, it will continue to build and be a domino of pains. So you can consider stretching a part of your de-stressing plan. I always like to think of stretching as a reset button, which is why I teach my stretching class right in the middle of the week. A midweek reset so we can live out the rest of our week strong.
"Headaches? Nagging neck pain, upper back/ shoulder pain, lower back pain, sciatica? When you are stressed, your whole body tenses, and unless you release it, it will continue to build and be a domino of pain." Trainer Cheryl Coppa
I love this stretch to release tension in the neck and face if you suffer from tension headaches. Give this a try!
Look at your right shoulder. Your right hand is going to pull down on your collarbone area and then put your left hand on top of your right also gently pulling down. Now move your chin slightly up and down trying to find that spot where you can feel a stretch in the neck and side of your face and head. You can hold in one spot or gently move through it, making sure to repeat on the other side.
Figure 4 Stretch
So common but so good! Can be done three ways, I do this stretch every day whether I’m standing in the kitchen, sitting at my desk, or laying on the floor doing a stretch after booty class ☺️
"On the surface, one might think stretching is a waste of time. You might think I should be doing something more productive with my time. But, as we are learning, especially as we age, the slow stuff is more important than ever." Trainer Cheryl Coppa
The next video is a release technique. Do this first before a stretch because this will make your stretch more effective. The release is a bit beyond stretching, helps get where a stretch can’t always reach. We use this technique all the time in the Core and Pelvic Floor program and sometimes we use it in different Stretch classes as well.
Try this experiment: Reach your toes and take a pic, or note how far you can reach. Roll out each foot for a minute with a massage ball or a lacrosse ball. In all directions and can be gentle and add pressure as you go. Now reach your toes again. You gained some reach, didn’t you? This is because we rolled out and loosened up the fascia tissue in the body. Fascia is like the glue that holds everything together in the body. It’s a thin connective tissue that encases everything in your body, organs, blood vessels, bones, nerve fibers, and muscles. Because of surgeries, stress, poor alignment, and lack of movement, it gets tight and everything is connected. So for example, if it is tight in your feet it is going to affect your hamstrings and your hips. I like the foot rollout because we are always on our feet so why not give them some love and have that benefit continue up the body?
Strength & Stretching Go Together Like Peanut Butter And Jelly!
On the surface, one might think stretching is a waste of time. You might think I should be doing something more productive with my time. But, as we are learning, especially as we age, the slow stuff is more important than ever. Just like how you hear me talk about breathing and rebuilding the Core and Pelvic Floor with breath work, the slow stuff, it’s what makes everything else work safely and productively.
When it comes to strength training and longevity for your muscles and keeping or restoring FULL function, stretching is part of the equation.
Let me give you an example;
👉🏽 Are you limited in your range of motion? Meaning, how low can you go on your squats?
👉🏽 What do your deadlifts look like? Are you able to even get your hips back? Or are your low back and glutes so tight that they limit not only your full range of motion but mess up your form completely?
👉🏽 What do your overhead movements look like? Are your ribs flared out from poor alignment or really tight upper abs?
Tight muscles pull your body out of alignment and limit your range of motion which in turn limits your strength gains. As you notice when you start on a fitness journey, your abilities start to change very quickly. This is the same with stretching, mobility, and flexibility. Once a week I teach a STRETCHING class. It is simple stretching movements that are great for beginners and even great for advanced fitness goers, just giving themselves permission to slow down so they can continue doing the things they love. This stretching class is a good precursor to yoga if you struggle with being on your hands and knees or wrists.
I will keep you standing, sitting, or laying down the whole time to make sure you are able to do all the moves and reap their benefits. This class feels good and relaxing.
So give yourself permission to do the slow stuff, especially on the days you feel tired or run down, and rest assured you are not wasting your time but rather you are investing in your strength, mobility, and longevity gains.
"Dynamic stretching can raise your core temperature and warm up the body, literally. This helps improve circulation, delivering oxygen and nutrients throughout your body quickly and efficiently." Trainer Sabrina Marr
By Sabrina Marr The most important lesson I learned about stretching, is understanding that there are 2 main different types of stretching. 1. Dynamic Stretching - uses active movements to prepare the muscles for exercise. 2. Static Stretching - involves holding muscles in one position to increase flexibility after exercise and reduce muscle soreness from exercise. And that lesson came with the realization that one is not better than the other, it’s just a matter of using both techniques at different times. As a yoga instructor, I build my classes around those 2 fundamentals: The initial stretches always have dynamic components getting the whole body or a specific body part to move and stretch by repeating the movement; and the final stretches are done in a passive way, mostly on the floor, by holding the pose longer. The type of stretching you do — and when — is crucial to reducing your risk of injury and relieving sore muscles.
What Is Dynamic Stretching?
Its purpose is to warm up the body before exercise. When performing these stretches you will move in a full range of motion, which improves mobility. What are the benefits of dynamic stretching? It promotes mobility by strengthening the muscles and joints within that range of motion. An active movement done with dynamic stretching can also raise your core temperature and warm up the body, literally. This helps improve circulation, delivering oxygen and nutrients throughout your body quickly and efficiently. As your blood gets pumping, you may feel an energy boost, too!
Here's an example of dynamic stretching for leg muscles, ideal for a warm-up before a “leg-day workout:
Watch Sabrina Demonstrating a Dynamic Stretching
What Is Static Stretching?
Its purpose is to decrease stiffness in the joints and muscles after the body has been warmed up through exercise. In addition, it helps in improving flexibility and the ability of the joint to extend through a range of motion without pain. This type of stretching is done by holding a certain position for an extended amount of time. It shouldn’t be done before exercise, but afterward or throughout the day as it aids in cooling down the body and releasing tension.
What are the benefits of static stretching? it encourages better flexibility or releases tension in stiff muscles or joints. This slow and controlled movement is a great relaxation tool that can be used immediately after your workout or even later when you are relaxing on the couch or in bed. Performing static stretching post-exercise also reduces the risk of acute muscle strain injuries and can lessen DOMS.
Here are a few good static stretches for your back health:
About Trainer Cheryl Coppa
✔️ A certified Core Confidence Specialist (Core and Pelvic Floor retraining)
✔️ A certified Personal Trainer specializing in women's fitness over 40
✔️ Low-Pressure Fitness / Hypopressive certified by creator Dr. Tamara Rial
✔️ Pre/postnatal corrective exercise specialist
✔️Instructor of the Pelvic Floor Health program, Ola Ka Ola
✔️ 40 years young, wife & mother of 3
About Trainer Sabrina Marr
A certified RYT 500 and a passionate yoga instructor with diplomas from Zen Den Yoga School in Florida and the Yoga Foundation in India. Sabrina Marr grew up in the Swiss Alps and has been dedicated to a healthy lifestyle from an early age. As an elite athlete, competing in the Gymnastics World Championships, she focused on the physical, mental and emotional components needed to achieve the serenity to compete at the highest levels. Sabrina teaches Yoga classes, Face yoga sessions, and leads meditation sessions on the Ola Ka Ola platform.