Daniel Plan 2/24/17: "L" is for Loosening Breaks

Hi all! 

I'm back today. Yesterday's message was courtesy of Zach. He is the one who adds all the great links and graphics to this series, and I'm very grateful to him for all that he does to make this a better presentation. A big thanks to him for pitching in with the message.

Yesterday, he started to break down PLAY.  The P represents "prayerful movements throughout your day." In other words, taking time to move and refocus on God periodically through your day.

Today we're going to discuss the second letter of the acronym. L is for Loosening Breaks. Exercise science teaches us that pre-activity warm up is the best way to prepare for an event or work out. In the past, we've been told that stretching before an event reduces injury, but surprisingly the data does not bear this out. Actually, an active warm up (light jogging, running in place, shadow boxing, arm circles) is a more effective way to prepare. Once the work out is complete, then static stretching is the preferred cool down method. Static stretching after an activity can increase flexibility and decrease aches and pains post exercise.

A great idea to consider is a whole class that is just focused on stretching, such as Pilates, yoga or an exercise ball class. Other options include elastic band stretching, towel stretching or using a pulley over a door with a rope to assist. In the past, I utilized this extensively to rehab a shoulder impingement.

Now, I want to talk a little bit about the way your musculature is designed. We are built with our muscles in opposition to each other across a joint. At any simple hinge joint there are muscles which act against each other to flex or extend. If we take the elbow, for example, the biceps draws the forearm up (flexion) and the triceps straightens the forearm relative to the humerus (extension).

There are other muscles that also act to produce these motions, but if you isolate these two you will get the picture. All stretching is based on the oppositional nature of the musculature.

In some instances, there is not a good oppositional muscle to counterbalance the effects of another. This is the situation in the jaw. We have very powerful muscles that close the jaw and weak ones that open it. Another area of imbalance is in our shoulders, where we have strong muscles that raise our shoulders and weak ones to lower them. So if we're not careful our shoulders end up around our ears after a stressful day.

We can address both of these imbalances with what I call the six-second relaxation. Stand up, take a deep breath in using your diaphragm, raise your shoulders, exhale and release your shoulders and your jaw. Repeat as necessary. I recommend doing this frequently throughout your day. At the same time, think about giving thanks to the Lord that He is in charge and you're NOT.

Today's Bible verse:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
— Matthew 11:28-30

Have a fantastic weekend!