At the chiropractor, the other day, I was informed that my right side is “very tight” and that it’s throwing my back out of whack. That makes sense, because I’ve been sitting at my desk, nearly motionless, for days, now, trying to meet my deadlines. The only movement I’ve been doing, for hours on end, is typing and moving my mouse, which is on the right side.
I guess I need to stretch. And not only for my chiro’s sake. I also need to stretch because when I get tight and tense, I tend to get tired. More tired than usual, actually. And it becomes hard for me to relax.
I notice this especially when I am trying to get to sleep at night, or I wake up in the middle of the night. 7 times out of 10, if i’m having trouble either falling asleep or staying asleep, it’s because I’m tight and tense, and I need to stretch — especially my back/spine.
It’s pretty amazing, the difference a back stretch makes. I do two different kinds of back stretches, in this order.
First, I do the cat/dog thing, where I am on my hands and knees, and I first arch my back (like an agry cat) and then I lower my back and stretch it that way. Usually I can hear/feel my spine popping and adjusting when I go from cat to dog. It feels pretty great.
The second stretch I do is a side roll. I lie flat on my bed with my arms at my sides, palms down. Keeping my back and shoulders flat on the bed, I lift up my right leg (keeping it straight0 and bring it over across my left side, swiveling my hips as I lower my right leg to cross my body. I gradually turn my whole torso to that side, keeping my shoulders flat, so that my spine is turning. I usually hear/feel 3-4 cracks and pops, from my sacrum up to my middle back, when I do this. And it feels great. It’s like this huge pressure is relieved, and I can breathe again.
I hold that stretch for a little bit, then I do the same with my left side, lying flat and lifting my left leg up and over my body to point to the right side. I often get more cracks and pops from that, and I get the same relief from the pressure when I do it.
Then I straighten out and lie flat again. Sometimes I’ll repeat the stretch a few times, just to make sure. Even on the nights when I don’t get cracks and pops, I still get a lot of relief from the stretching. Heaven.
And then I can sleep.
A lot of times, when I wake up during the night, it’s because my back is tightening up and I’m not able to relax. Doing this side-to-side stretch often gives me just the kind of relief I need.
Try it. You might like it.
Anyway, I’ve been feeling a little sick, the past few days, with a sore throat and aches and chills. I think I need to take it easy today. Of course, I still have lots to get done, but I’m going to focus more on stretching today, than strength-building. I’ve been on this strength-building kick for some time, now, and I’ve done pretty well at my daily workouts. Nothing huge, mind you, and more about maintenance than out-and-out strength building. But my focus has been so much on cardio and lifting, that the stretching thing has kind of fallen by the wayside.
And I think it’s cutting into my overall health. Reason being, I’m on the go so much, I don’t give myself nearly enough time to rest and relax. Part of the reason seems to be due to my tightness and lack of flexibility. I’ve noticed that being tight actually tires me out, and I’ve also noticed that stretching seems to free up some pretty amazing energy — it’s like I can breathe again. My body can communicate with itself again. And I start to feel more human. I start to feel like myself.
Which is good.
And it’s good for me to keep this in mind, when I’m pushing through to Get Things Done. Sometimes I don’t need to force issues and MAKE things happen — I need more to loosen up and let myself be inspired, let some of the answers that I’ve been ignoring (because I’ve been so busy trying to force things through) actually bubble to the surface.
It’s all a balancing act, of course, and there’s no simple solution to lots of the issues I come across, but having one more thing I can do to help myself when I’m getting in a jam is a good thing.