Muscles are wonderful things. They tend to us in many ways. They scratch our backs. They let us move mountains and give each other hugs. Have you ever thought about what you can do for your muscles? There are five simple things that your muscles need every day. Keep these five things in mind so you can create more balance in your fitness routines as well as your lifestyle in general.
They are: stretch, squeeze, sweat, fuel, and rest.
Let’s start with sweat and fuel. Basically you need to bring in nutrients and get rid of waste. And while we don’t want to get into what foods, supplements, and types of exercise are best, we do want to bring to mind the realization that muscles need nutrients and to release waste. Sweating your body through gentle exercise or a sauna gets the job done nicely to increase blood flow, bring nutrients, and release wastes for improved muscle health and function. Next, we visit rest, a vital component of any routine. Without time to repair, restore nutrients, and release tension, your muscles are not as strong as they could be. Do you allow yourself time for stillness during the day? Do you include enough time for good restful sleep at night? Keep rest in mind as an important daily activity. Keep it in proportion and enjoy it. Squeeze and sweat are important in balanced proportion. Together the two compose the active types of work, or stress, the body needs to develop and maintain healthy muscle. While we are familiar with lifting weights and doing cardio, the piece to keep in mind with them is balance. We normally don’t need bulk. We like muscle bulk, it’s pretty. For health, we need strength in every muscle. By that I mean we need the strength to perform our daily lives without overly straining.
The same idea pertains to cardio. We need to gently sweat for 20 minutes at least three times a week to get amazing health benefits. We like to say we run marathons, but do we need to? Stretching, while often neglected in our culture, is a vital and essential part of muscle health. Our muscles are stress shock absorbers. They protect us by contracting. Without proper stretching, rest, and fuel, they will lock up, get brittle, and tear. We squeeze our muscles whenever we move, hold a posture, or feel stress. We need to counteract that squeeze in equal proportion in order to stay balanced. Regular stretching teaches our body how to release the pent up tension in our muscles. It also increases nutrient and waste exchange by removing blockages to blood flow throughout the body.
Remember: Your muscles need both nourishment and detoxification. They need a balanced program of workout “stress” to stay strong. Finally, muscles have a natural tendency to hold tension. Help them release that tension by including adequate rest, nutrition, and the forgotten daily stretch.
Caution: Unhappy muscles communicate in the language of pain.