A 5-Step Stretching Habit
Flexibility is an important part of fitness and overall health. Daily activities would be much more difficult without the ability to bend, twist or squat.
By incorporating a stretching program into your daily routine, you can increase flexibility and range of motion. You can also improve performance in sports and daily activities. Stretching can help prevent injury and reduce pain associated with muscle tension.
What Flexibility Is and What It Isn’t
Flexibility is the ability of muscles and other connective tissues to stretch temporarily. Mobility is the ability of joints to move freely through a range of motion without pain.
Good mobility depends in part on good flexibility. Being flexible doesn’t mean your mobility is up to snuff and vice versa. Flexibility is only one piece of the mobility puzzle.
Why Flexibility Is Important
After all, flexibility is important in everyday life. Think of bending down to pick up laundry or picking up something from a shelf. If your muscles are inelastic, tasks like these will be much more complicated. Flexibility is also needed to release muscle tension and pain and promote relaxation. It’s hard to feel comfortable if your body is in constant pain! It can also improve aerobic fitness, muscle strength and endurance, allowing muscles to complete the full range of motion (mobility) for maximum effect.
If you’re looking to increase your overall flexibility, it’s best to incorporate a combination of breath work, static stretching, and dynamic stretching.
- Adding strength training can further improve both flexibility and mobility.
- If you already have an exercise routine, try adding a short session of breathing and dynamic stretching before a workout and static stretching afterwards.
- You can also consider incorporating stretching into your morning or bedtime routine.
How to Optimize Your
Training To get the most out of your flexibility training, keep these factors in mind:
- Aim for 3 days per week of flexibility training to start. A 10–15-minute session that combines breathing, static stretching, and stretching will be effective and manageable.
- Hold or do each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Relax and repeat.
- Perform dynamic stretches before strength training and cool down afterwards with static stretches. Static stretches are generally safer and more effective when performed on warm muscles.
Tips for Adopting a Good Stretching Routine
Finding time each day to devote to your flexibility will help you in the long run. When it comes to improving flexibility, consistency is key. To make it a habit, follow this advice:
Go short. There’s no reason to dedicate 30 minutes or even 15 minutes to stretching. Find the right time to do it. Stretch as soon as you get out of the shower when your muscles are warm and relaxed. Otherwise, do it right before bed to prepare your body and mind for sleep. The key is to naturally fit the stretches into your day so you can remember and do them.
Stretch when you need to. Your body will ask you to stretch. Know the pains you feel after an intense workout or after sitting in the car for a long drive. Hence, give it what it wants! Start with quick and easy stretches tailored to your needs to ensure the routine is satisfying. Focus on stretching for areas of your body that are tight or sore. For example, stretch your neck when it starts to feel pain or open your hips when they start to feel tired.
Use for energy. Rather than switching to caffeine for the morning wake-up call or to get over a mid-afternoon slump, try stretching. If you choose to do this first thing in the morning, it will help increase your energy and productivity. Doing slow, repetitive stretches that last a few seconds each will increase blood flow throughout your body to release tension, which should be energizing.
Proper breathing is an important part of all exercise, especially stretching. The basis of the work of breathing – diaphragmatic breathing – is intended to teach you how to breathe more efficiently and with less energy. It also engages and strengthens the diaphragm and core muscles. If the diaphragm and trunk are not strong, stretching and strength training will be more difficult.
A great way to improve flexibility is static stretching, which involves stretching and holding it without movement for a period. Even adding static stretching to your routine can make a big difference in how your body feels. There are a few things to keep in mind when performing static stretching:
- Warm up early Spend 5-10 minutes in a low-intensity warm-up, such as walking, to warm up your muscles before diving into routine stretching Static stretching cold muscles can increase your risk of injury.
- Don’t bounce. While it may be tempting to rise and fall quickly during the stretch to go deeper, it can risk injuring your muscles. Instead, hold the tension point for 15 to 30 seconds, then relax and repeat.
- Don’t go too far. Stretch to the point of tension, and then stop there. Excessive effort can cause injury.
- Remember your breathing. Be aware of your inhale and exhale pattern, practicing diaphragmatic breathing whenever possible.
Another way to increase flexibility and mobility is to incorporate dynamic stretching, which is a movement-based type of stretching. Instead of taking a position and holding it, a dynamic stretch puts the muscles and joints into a full range of motion. It’s a great warm-up before a variety of different activities. While you can think of stretching as a way to increase flexibility and mobility, strength training can also improve both, if done with the right form and full range of motion, that’s -to say.
Stick to the basic moves and focus on form to give your muscles the best workout.
Start Today With These 5
Depending on how you use your body, your body type, and many other factors, different stretches may be better than others or more helpful for you. These stretches are a good starting point for targeting some of the major muscle groups and relieving some of the most common aches and pains.
1. Stretch Hamstrings With the “Hello Hammies”
How To – Lay down at the ground. Bend one knee in in the direction of your chest and wrap a strap, resistance band, or towel across the arch of 1 foot, grabbing each end of the prop. Bend your knee to ninety degrees, then straighten your leg, preserve for 2 seconds, and bend on the knee. Repeat for so long as feels good. Switch legs.
2. Stretch Your Lower Back With the “Twist & Dipper”
When your decrease returned is aching even as sitting at a laptop all day, take a second to do this spine-massaging stretch.
How To – Sit tall in a chair and region fingers in the back of your head with elbows out wide. Twist to at least one facet and drop elbow right all the way down to your knee. Hold for two seconds. Repeat for so long as feels good. Switch sides.
3. Try Shin Crossovers to Loosen Up Hips
Take the strain off your hips and cope with any muscle tightness with this easy seated stretch.
How To – Sitting down, go one shin over the other thigh. Move your torso forward, to be able to deepen the stretch. Hold for so long as feels good. Switch sides.
4. Roll Your Arch for Foot Health
All you want is a ball to ease foot pain. The instructions, below, are geared in the direction of a status stretch, however you could additionally do that sitting down at a table or even as looking TV.
How To – Using a lacrosse or tennis ball, stand close to a wall and region your hand at the wall for balance. Place one foot on pinnacle of the ball and press down. (Shift extra of your weight onto the ball for a deeper stretch.) Roll the ball to one-of-a-kind factors in your sole (arch, ball, heel), focusing at the locations wherein you want to launch anxiety the most. Switch and roll the opposite foot.
5. Try This Easy Seated Neck Stretch
Stretching the neck will help relieve neck pain. Do this when you start to feel tension in your neck while working on the computer. When the stretch is complete, you should feel like you can sit higher.
How To – Sit on a chair. Grasp the bottom of the chair with your left hand and lean to the right, keeping your shoulder down to lengthen your neck. Hold for several seconds. Switch sides.
Other Stretches You Can Do
Side Lunge Stretch
Keep your upper body straight and your legs apart. Next, shift your weight into a slow “lunge” to the side above a bent knee (not forward, as in a typical lunge). You should feel a stretch along the inner thigh of the opposite leg, which should be straight as you push the weight down the side of the bent knee. Try holding it for 20-30 seconds on each side.
Stand facing a wall a little further than one arm. Bring one foot forward with the knee bent and the other back with the knee straight. The feet should point straight forward. Using your arms to press against the wall, keep your stomach still and bend over until you feel the stretch in the rear leg calf muscle. Try to keep both feet flat. Hold it for 20 to 30 seconds on each side.
Chest and Shoulder Stretch
You can do this sitting or standing. Interlace your fingers with bent elbows and place your hands behind your head. Gently bring your elbows back and squeeze your shoulder blades together. You can move your hands up your head or a few inches above your head to affect different parts of the shoulders and chest.
This stretches the hip flexors. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet hip-width apart on the floor. Gently squeeze your abdominal muscles to flatten your back and avoid overstretching. Then tighten your gluteal (gluteal) muscles as you push your hips toward the ceiling. Hold for a few seconds and repeat
Standing Quadruple Stretch
Stand behind a chair with your legs shoulder-width apart. Put one hand on the chair for balance. On the other side, lift your foot behind you and catch it with your free hand, keeping your knee bent straight toward the floor. Avoid leaning forward and try not to lock the knee of your standing leg. Gently pull on your leg until your thigh is straight. Hold it for 10 to 30 seconds.
Stretches stomach and back muscles. Lie on your stomach with your hands facing forward on the floor, directly below your shoulders. Extend your legs behind you and point your toes. As you exhale, lift your chest, and push your hips toward the floor. Be careful not to stretch your arms to the point of lifting your hips. Hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds.
Standing Hip Flexor Stretch
The hip flexor muscles that help you raise your knees and flex your waist can become tight if you’re a runner or if you sit for long periods of time. Release one leg back, keeping it straight or slightly bent. Try to keep your torso straight and your spine straight. Lower your tailbone to the floor and bend your buttocks forward until you feel the inner thigh stretch of the back leg. Hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds, and then switch legs.
This relaxes the thighs, groin, hips, and knees. Sit on the floor or a mat and brings your feet together so that the soles of your feet are touching, and your knees bend to opposite sides. With your spine straight, grab your feet, then slowly lean forward and gently push your thighs down with your elbows until you feel the stretch along your inner thighs. Hold for 15-30 seconds
Stretch Hamstrings While Standing
While standing, find something to hold on to for balance. Place one straight leg on a step or block. Bend slightly (no further than the toes) with the opposite knee until you feel a slight stretch in the back of the thigh of the lifted leg. Lean forward slightly from your hips if you need more of a stretch. Move slowly and evenly, without bouncing. Hold it for 20 to 30 seconds and switch legs.
Try out these above exercises and see for yourself the results. Make sure to check with your doctor in case of any complications.