Health and Wellness: A Big Stretch: Sometimes It’s All We Need to Get Going

By Erika Taylor

Until we make our desire to stretch autonomic like it was when we were toddlers, where we crave it and would no sooner skip it than brushing our teeth, we may need to talk ourselves into it.

Erika Taylor

So, here’s some fodder for that talk. Just a few of the things we get when we create a daily stretching habit:

1. Better Posture Tight muscles make us want to scrunch down when we sit. Driving, cell phones, computers, cooking, and even many forms of exercise like biking round our shoulders, crane our necks, and place lots of pressure on our spine and hips. Stretching helps muscles relax and become more limber, allowing us to sit up straight and lengthen our spines, making room for our bodies to work properly.

2. Better Breathing Did you know the diaphragm, largely responsible for each of our inhales and exhales, is a muscle? Stretching and strengthening the respiratory muscles with targeted, purposeful breathing practice can boost lung capacity and increase the body’s ability to oxygenate blood. This can improve brain function as well as help de-stress and lower your heart rate and blood pressure.

3. Better Workouts Stretching supports muscle repair, flushes out waste in the digestive system, promotes flexibility, and increases range of motion. Static stretching after you work out helps reorganize muscle fibers and floods the body with oxygen and nutrients to speed up muscle recovery. Activity-specific stretching can give you a leg up (literally!) on the competition.

4. Better Moods Stretching, especially when done with mobility work, yoga, or tai chi, can foster a more positive mood, induce calm, and improve confidence in your body’s ability to perform, which may enhance self-esteem in other areas of life as well. I am always so pleased when clients who come to me with constant achiness notice that the pain relief from stretching translates to feeling better in many other ways.

5. Better Balance Range of motion and flexibility are key components of balance. Stretching supports fine muscle coordination and increases range of motion in the joints, making it more likely our body can make quick adjustments that prevent us from losing our balance unintentionally and falling.

6. Better Energy Stretching causes immediate improvements in circulation by relaxing blood vessels and increasing the amount of blood the heart pumps. Increased blood flow to the muscles, and also to the brain, results in feeling more energy.

A great way to start the day, in my humble opinion. Even better, you can do it in your pajamas. Even before you throw the covers off for the day. Once you’ve talked yourself into stretching, don’t overthink it. Static stretches are best done after activity.

Before exercise, use active mobility enhancing moves instead of deep holds which can temporarily destabilize joints. Stretch upon waking as you ease into your day and again just before bed. Hold each stretch for three to five breath cycles. Avoid bouncing. With each exhale, you may want to move into the stretch a little further, but do so only to the point of noticing the area you want to stretch, never into pain.

For most of us, focusing on our chest, shoulders, hips, spine, calves, quads, and hamstrings will get us what we need. Remember, the whole point is to rebuild our body’s ability and, in the words of Yoga with Adriene’s Adriene Mishler, to “find what feels good” and learn to crave doing it. Perform stretches throughout your day for maximum benefit.

And if you are wondering about specific stretches for your body and the daily activities you want to support with your stretching routine, let me know. That’s what I’m here for.

Erika Taylor is a community wellness instigator at Taylored Fitness, the original online wellness mentoring system. Taylored Fitness believes that everyone can discover small changes in order to make themselves and their communities more vibrant, and that it is only possible to do our best work in the world if we make a daily commitment to our health. Visit or email erika@



  1. This article on stretching came at the perfect time. Not only has a stressful period provoked back pain but I’m getting on a plane today and I know stretching beforehand will help me arrive in a better place mentally as well as physically. Thanks

    • Thank you for taking time to write. I’m so glad to hear it hit the mark for you. Happy travels!

  2. I always benefit from reading your column and breathing especially has helped me this morning as this week has been very stressful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.