Since I wrote about Integrating YTU Therapy Balls into your Daily Routine, I’ve been experimenting with also adding Yoga Tune Up® stretching exercises into my daily routines, and my body has been thanking me for it!
While using YTU Therapy Balls throughout my day has certainly been helpful, I felt something was missing from making these quick tune-ups as effective as they could be. The on-the-go therapy ball use was convenient for making my tissues more awake, relaxed, and supple, but as soon as I would stop this work and resume my repetitive movements and long-held positions (like sitting for hours on end), my pain would return rather quickly.
In retrospect, I was so excited about the new experience of massaging my aches and pains away that I stopped doing what I used to do to deal with them: STRETCH. Finally, I have come to integrate both YTU Therapy Ball work and YTU stretching exercises into my routines, and the combination is combatting my daily discomforts better than ever.
Often times, our inflexibility and discomfort stems from shortened, contracted muscles that have trouble relaxing. One of the main ways to reduce pain, improve posture, and enhance performance is to restore muscles to their naturally relaxed state, which means lengthening (stretching) them beyond their natural length, so that they can ultimately rest at their natural length, where they can be relaxed.
So, why incorporate self-massage AND stretching? Most simply, because massage and stretching are synergistic: their combined effect tends to be more potent for relaxing and restoring health to muscles than either therapy alone. Massage (or self-massage in this case) essentially primes muscles for stretching in various ways: increasing blood flow, reducing inflammation, increasing sensation and kinesthetic awareness (aka proprioception), and in certain cases, removing myofascial restrictions, which would otherwise prevent a muscle (or group of muscles) from stretching to its natural length.
I’ve put together a list of YTU stretching exercises for you to sprinkle in through your day to supplement the therapy ball self-care multi-tasking hacks described in my first article – check back at the end of the week to read for essential stretches for your lower back, hands, wrists, and neck.