Get A Little Closer This Valentine's Day

By Guest

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, consider a creative way to get a little closer—and healthier—through the gift of partner stretching.  Health-wise, stretching can be incredibly valuable in improving flexibility and reducing your risk of injury, and stretching with a partner can help you achieve a greater range of movement.  But partner stretching is also a great way to foster intimacy and closeness in your relationship by learning what each other’s bodies are truly capable of—all while encouraging a healthy and proactive habit.  The constant closeness and intimate body positioning doesn’t hurt either!

To begin, designate one person as the “stretcher” (person assisting) and one as the “stretchee” (person doing the actual stretching) with the intention of switching places eventually.  Remember that continual communication throughout the stretch process is essential so that both parties are clear on each other’s limits regarding stretch range, duration, repetition number, and resistance to avoid pain or injury.  And above all, stretching is supposed to feel good and pain-free. If you feel pain, let your partner know, make modifications and stop immediately if the pain persists. 

Below are three partner stretches to get you and your loved one started: 

1.    Pectoral (Chest) Stretch: 

Stretching the chest area elongates these muscles while releasing tension and tightness that builds over time due to stress and everyday tasks.   To stretch, clasp your hands behind your head and allow your partner to gently pull your arms back. (Don’t yank the shoulders at their joints.) Allow the front chest muscles to lengthen.  Hold for 15 to 30 seconds while breathing.  Then take a break and repeat several times. 

2.    Hamstring Stretch 

Routine hamstring stretches greatly increase flexibility and help prevent injury while working out.  Lie on your back with your lower back and shoulders pressed to the floor. Your partner kneels to one side of you, taking hold of your closest leg at the ankle and slightly above the knee.  Keep fully extended, raising the leg gently towards your torso while ensuring your hips, lower back and shoulders stay pressed to the floor. Hold for 15 to 20 seconds and then repeat on the other side. 

3.    Rotational Stretch

Stand with your partner directly behind you, facing your back. Cross your arms over your chest and rotate to the right, keeping your feet firmly on floor, pelvis straight (no shifting).  Focus on twisting through each vertebra in your spine.  Once you have reached your maximum rotation, your partner will embrace you across the arms, and gently, provides a small amount of extra stretch. Hold and breathe into this stretch for three breath cycles, then complete on the other side. Breathe together while stretching and communicate how the stretch feels to each of you. The sensation should be comfortable and relaxing.

Remember to take each stretch slowly and gently, focusing on the individual needs of each person.  Similar to maintaining a good relationship, partner stretching should employ some of the same principles:  open communication, shared enthusiasm, continual support and the desire to try something new.  When you have completed your stretches, keep the healthy activities coming:  go for a couples run, participate in a yoga session together or maybe even try a couples massage.  Keeping in tune with each other’s bodies is just one more way for you to increase shared intimacy and closeness in your relationship this Valentine’s Day and throughout the entire year.

CranioSacral therapy is an effective technique for pain reductionElizabeth Polis, P.T. is the owner and founder of Core Wellness & Physical Therapy in Alexandria, VA. She is experienced in treating a vast range of orthopedic conditions, specializing in the prevention and rehabilitation of acute and chronic spinal and musculoskeletal conditions. Her treatments integrate a range of manual techniques, including Craniosacral Technique, Muscle Energy Technique, Myofascial Release, joint manipulation, Strain Counter-Strain, and others.

Photo Credit: TinnyTinTin

By Guest| February 13, 2013
Categories:  Care

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