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Start With a Stretch and Finish With a Smile

By Sandy Schroeder

This has not been a good year for smiles, but we may be missing an easy way to fix that.  Researchers are now telling us stretching has many benefits. As we stretch to keep the body limber and improve range of motion, we may also be improving our mood. 

I always come away smiling from my yoga class and often meet new people in my tai chi class. As the body stretches, it's easy to reach out to others and continue the connection. 

At the same time when you are doing simple stretches at home, you may be inspired to call friends, visit neighbors or reach out to help someone. As the body relaxes, the spirit often works better too. 

If you could use a few more smiles, here are some simple stretches that may help.

Chest knee stretch - Lie on back with knees bent feet flat on mat. Use hands to pull one knee up to chest. Tighten abdominals and press spine to mat. Repeat with opposite leg. Repeat this stretch in the morning and the evening and enjoy the tension release. 

Standing chest stretch - Stand with feet about a foot apart. Lace fingers behind back. Pull shoulder blades down and straighten arms as you lift chest and look up. Hold for 15 seconds and use this stretch whenever you are feeling stiff and tired. 

Wide leg stretch - Sit on floor, extend legs and open to 90 degrees with toes pointed toward the ceiling. Keep your spine straight as you walk your hands forward on the mat between legs. Walk your hands as far as you can comfortably and hold 5 to 10 seconds. Slowly sit up and bring legs back together. Use this stretch whenever you need to loosen up and let go of tension. 

Why It Works So Well

Whatever simple stretches that you use throughout the day, you are giving your mind and body permission to soften thoughts and slow down the heart and telling your brain it is safe to ease up. 

Stretching takes care of your physical and mental health. As you use it, you may see the effects playing out as you enjoy your work, interact with your family, and reach out to everyone around you.  They will automatically sense the difference too. 

As you get in the habit of stretching more, keep looking for simple stretches that you can use during work or while traveling. Start the day with stretches to set a positive tone for the day and wrap everything up with more to ensure a good night's sleep. 

When you need a mental and physical boost, visit The Joint Chiropractic clinic near you. Find out more about the personal healthcare plans that eliminate the hassle of insurance. Walk-ins are welcome and clinics are available across the country whenever you are traveling. 

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Columbus, Ga.

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