Stretching your body will not necessarily attribute to muscle gains or weight loss but it’s important for flexibility, range of motion and injury prevention. Incorporating stretching into your daily routine is just as important to health and body functioning as regular exercise.
- Stress causes your muscles to contract leaving your feeling tense and uneasy with a negative impact on both your body and mind. Stretching will calm the mind, loosen tight muscles and increase blood flow. So it’s suffice to say a good stretch has powerful stress-busting abilities.
- Stretching is great for postural alignment and ensures correct posture by lengthening tight muscles that cause areas of the body to pull away from their intended position. Regularly stretching the muscles in the lower back, chest and shoulders can help keep the spine in better alignment and improve overall posture. There will be a limited need to slouch since aches and pains will be reduced.
- The most profound and obvious benefits of stretching are decreased risk of injury, improved flexibility and range of motion. Stretching supplies a greater nutrient supply and promotes blood circulation and with this comes speedy recovery from aching muscles and joints, reduced post-workout soreness and the promotion of cell growth and organ function.
Here’s a great analogy I once learned; when you stretch your body think plastic, not elastic. For example; when you stretch a piece of elastic it snaps right back to its original length. However, when you stretch a plastic bag it takes on that new length. And so it is with your muscles. When you stretch aim to stretch each muscle to the point of discomfort (not pain), hold it there for a few seconds and then try to take it a little further. The muscle will take on this new length; aka plastic stretch, and after a few months your range of motion will literally move from zero to hero!
If “lack of time” is your excuse, here is a great way to maintain a flexible body with just five minutes of stretching a day.
Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds
- Lying on your back pull both knees into your chest with your hands. Circle right five times, then left five times.
- Hold one knee tightly into your chest and extend then other leg straight focusing on pushing the hip down towards the floor. Switch sides.
- Drop both knees to the right and simultaneously bring both arms across your body to the left. Switch sides.
- Keeping one knee bent with your foot on the floor extend the other leg up towards the ceiling. Hold your leg behind the calf and don’t lock the knee. Repeat on the other side.
- Cross your knees and hug them tightly towards your chest. Switch sides.
- Sit up straight and drop your knees out and hold your feet with soles touching each other. Hold and press your knees down towards the floor.
- Extend your legs out in a V in front of you and aim to touch your toes. Try and keep your back as straight as you can.
- Straighten your right leg and hug your left into your chest tightly. Change sides.
- Come onto all fours and place your buttocks onto your heels. Stretch your arms out on the floor in front of you.
- Come up into downward dog position and hold.
- Walk hands and feet together and hold.
- Standing, hold onto a support. Keep your left knee slightly bent and pull your right foot up to your right buttock. Make sure the knees are kept together and then without letting the knee move push your right hip forwards. Repeat on the other side.
- Clasp both hands behind your back and keeping your pelvis tilted forwards lift the arms up as high as you can.
DO NOT NEGLECT YOUR STRETCHING!