In my last post, How You Can Start Meditating Today, I talked about why you should meditate first thing in the morning. Before you look at your phone and start checking emails and notifications, take ten minutes and meditate. But there’s something I do before I even get out of bed and that’s stretch. Here is why you should stretch before you get out of bed in the morning.
Before I talk about the why, I want to talk about the what. And not what is stretching, because you know what it is, but what it’s associated with in our bodies. It’s called fascia (pronounced FAH-sha).
What is fascia?
If you’ve never heard of fascia, you’re not the only one. I only discovered it during my yoga teacher training certification in August. We were shown a video, which you’ll see below, that blew us all away. Ever since then, I make a point of stretching before I ever get out of bed.
We’re all familiar with stretching, whether it’s before or after a workout, while doing yoga, or just raising our hands above our head. A good stretch always feels refreshing, but having a deeper understanding of why it’s so good for you and your health, will make you appreciate it more.
So what is fascia? The above photo is from Orthology.com, it’s a layer of fascia in the body. According to Wikipedia, fascia is a band or sheet of connective tissue. It is primarily collagen, underneath the skin that attaches, stabilizes, encloses, and separates muscles and other internal organs. There are different layers of Fascia. Superficial fascia, deep fascia, and visceral or parietal fascia, or by its function and anatomical location.
What is the link between fascia and stretching?
As I mentioned, most of us, or those of us that exercise and do yoga, stretch. But when you understand the vital importance of fascia in our bodies and why stretching is so powerful, you will never go a day without stretching.
The video that we watched in my yoga teacher training is Gil Hedley: Fascia and Stretching: The Fuzz Speech. Check it out below.
I know, Gil Hedley is a character, but is your mind blown or what? After watching this video, I had a whole new appreciation for stretching and making sure I not only do it every morning before getting out of bed, but throw in a few yoga moves after I meditate or at the end of the day.
How to stretch your fascia in the morning
I came across this article in the Huffington Post, A Body Part You Never Knew You Had Could Be Making You Miserable. It’s a simple, yet effective post on fascia and why some of the stiffness and pain people feel is related to it. The article shares different movements and stretches people can do to really tap into their fascia. I like the first section about “Finding Your Inner Feline” (or canine for us dog lovers!) and doing a morning stretch in bed.
When you first wake up in the morning, the only thing you’re going to do with your phone is turn off your alarm, that’s it! Then while still lying in bed, reach your arms above your head and stretch out your legs, feet and toes. Also take a moment to roll side to side. Then roll over to whichever side you get out of bed and push yourself up to a seated position. Extend both or each of your legs out separately and flex your feet. Then lean to each side and do another stretch with your arm above your head, reaching side to side. You will feel like a million bucks, ready to meditate, do yoga or simply get ready for your day.
The connection between fascia and health
When you think of fascia, think of a sponge. When a sponge is dry, it’s stiff, but when it’s moist, it’s adaptable, flexible and malleable. You can squeeze it, twist it and it always goes back to its original shape. Fascia is very similar to a sponge and not only is stretching important, but keeping it hydrated as well.
It has been said that keeping your fascia hydrated and supple is one of the keys to health, anti-aging or even reversing aging, as noted in this piece by Liberated Body. So not only is stretching and doing yoga important, so is drinking enough water and eating actual whole foods. Also things like massage are great, or if you can handle it, Rolfing.
So starting tomorrow morning, remember to stretch. You’re not only giving yourself some much needed self-care, but you’re also taking care of your health. Like organic is to food and yoga is to exercise, fascia or stretching is to your body. It all matters for your overall health and wellness.