No matter your lifestyle, stretching is extremely important for daily life and for your future health. It can decrease your risk of injury as you age and allow you to access your body's full range of motion.
While some people are naturally more prone to flexibility and stretching is a treat, some people are naturally tighter and hate stretching. Regardless of your body type, you need to get those limbs and muscle groups moving! Here are a few steps how to get the most out of your stretches:
1. Don't Stretch Cold Muscles
Always do a little bit of aerobic movements to get your blood pumping so you can stretch safely and avoid injuries. That being said, you can start by gently stretching first thing in the morning, without even getting out of bed. Stretch your arms overhead, bend one knee towards your chest, then another. Then, you can hold behind your thigh, and stretch your straight legs towards your face. These are gentle enough that they will get your circulation working, help you wake up, and will not cause injuries.
2. Vary Your Stretches
Before your workouts, it’s better to do dynamic stretches. Do leg swings, jog a little in place, maybe jog and try to kick your butt. Do some sun salutations, if you are familiar with yoga. Save your static stretches (the stretches you hold for several seconds) for after your workout. If you do static stretches before your workout, it can weaken your performance, especially if it’s running or jumping. Everyone is more flexible after working out because their body is warmed up, so it’s a good chance to push your body.
3. Take Care of Yourself
Healthy muscle and nerve function rely on adequate levels of magnesium! If you’re experiencing muscle cramps during your stretching and exercises, this might be the result of an imbalance of calcium and potassium. Magnesium helps regulate these minerals to keep you pain-free!
4. Listen to Your Body
You don’t want to feel pain during stretching. You can feel slight pulling, but if it feels painful, you should stop. The goal is to have flexible muscles, not spend time recovering from injuries.
5. Stretch in the Sun
One of my favorite stretching tips I’ve received was from my ballet teacher: Take advantage of warm weather! Your body is already warm, because of the weather, so this is a good time to become more flexible.
6. Experiment with Yoga
In general, if you’re looking to naturally add more stretching and flexibility to your life, it’s a good idea to start taking yoga classes. It’s a misconception that that you need to be flexible to do yoga, yoga is what helps you become more flexible.
Looking to add some simple stretches to your day?
If you're new to stretching and this article has piqued your interest, check out these simple daily stretches we love from personal trainer Laura Williams, taken from netdoctor.co.uk. Click the link to check out the full article!
1. The neck stretch
✔️ Try this: From a seated position, place your left hand on the right side of your head, with your right arm behind your back. Gently pull your head to the left side until you feel a gentle stretch in your neck. Hold for 20-30 seconds. Repeat on the other side
2. The standing quad stretch
✔️ Try this: From a standing position, using a wall or door for support if needed, bend your right leg, grab the top of your right foot towards your right buttock, knee pointing down at the floor. You should feel a stretch right down the front of your right thigh. Tilt hips forward to feel the stretch at the top of your thigh. Hold for 20-30 seconds. Switch to left leg.
3. The chest stretch
✔️ Try this: Stand tall and clasp hands behind your back, squeezing your shoulder blades as you raise your arms. Lift higher to feel a deeper stretch. Hold for 20-30 seconds
4. The cat stretch
✔️ Try this: Begin in an all fours position with back flat before rounding spine and arching back your back and dropping chin to chest. Gently contract your abdominals as you do this taking care not to hold your breath. Hold for five seconds, relax and repeat. Do a total of five arches.
5. The hamstring stretch
✔️ Try this: Lie on the floor with both legs bent and wrap a resistance band, or a scarf or towel, around the base of one foot (your other foot should remain on the floor). Slowly extend your leg upwards and aim to reach a right angle – you should feel a stretch but no pain. Once you feel a decent stretch, hold for 30 seconds before repeating on the other side.
6. The bum stretch
✔️ Try this: Lie on your back with legs bent, feet flat on the floor. Lift your legs off the floor and cross your right leg over the thigh, above your knee, of your left leg. Pull your left thigh and push your right foot (keep your right foot straight) towards you until you feel a stretch in your right buttock. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on other side.
7. The hip stretch
✔️ Try this: Lie on your back with legs bent at the knee, feet flat, arms out to the side. Roll your hips and legs to the right, keeping feet flat on floor, as you roll head to the left. Hold for a count of three seconds, before returning to centre and repeating on the other side. Perform a total of 10 rolls.