5 Secrets to Great Stretches

Our joints can lose up to 50% of their range of motion as we age!

This morning I woke feeling a little tight and sore from leg day. I really just wanted to skip a session of “gym” and call it my day off. Nevertheless, I marched back into my bedroom, pass the bed and straight to closet to change in into some yoga active wear. Who am i kidding!? I can’t skip a day! 

Do you know what happens when you skip a day!?

You’re more likely to skip the following day! You might feel a little less energy though out the day as well. When I take a rest day from on going, never ending, NO DAYS OFF months I do chill and rest. However, on a rest day I like to stretch the muscles to wake them up and let the blood flow. This in turn helps the following days.

The Importance of Stretching

You may think of stretching as something performed only by runners or gymnasts. But we all need to stretch in order to protect our mobility and independence. “A lot of people don’t understand that stretching has to happen on a regular basis. It should be daily,” says David Nolan, a physical therapist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.

1. Start Today

You don’t want to become a stale chip? Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage. For example, sitting in a chair all day results in tight hamstrings in the back of the thigh. That can make it harder to extend your leg or straighten your knee all the way, which inhibits walking

The Secret: 

Try stretching for 15 min when ever you have the chance to. Whether it’s before bed or waking up 15 min earlier than your usual time. Aim for a program of daily stretches or at least three or four times per week.

2. Consistency Rewards

Stretching once today won’t magically give you perfect flexibility.

You’ll need to do it over time and remain committed to the process.

It may have taken you many months to get tight muscles, so you’re not going to be perfectly flexible after one or two sessions, It takes weeks to months to get flexible, and you’ll have to continue working on it to maintain it.

Our body carries the stresses of life so when we make the time to let go you can be free… figuratively speaking.

Secret:

Focus on different areas every day for 15-20 min and make it your ritual. I like to follow Boho Beautiful on youtube. She’s very inspirational and instructs in a lovely manner. 

3. Stay Calm and Relax

For a lot of people, stretching just feels good. And things that make us feel good—whether that’s eating a warm chocolate chip cookie, taking a hot bath, or stretching—can help reduce chronic stress and bring us closer to a calmer state and if you do all three in one day then you have definitely rewarded your body.

 

Stretching can be especially relaxing mentally if you pair it with deep breathing. Every time you release a deep breath, imagine you’re letting go of a stressor in your life, negative things, and then sink a tiny bit lower into the stretch  (Just make sure you’re not stretching to the point of pain.) Stretching in this very intentional way can definitely give you a mental boost by allowing you to feel calm.

Secret:

Yoga blocks are most helpful especially if you’re new to yoga stretches or any stretches, really. Learn to breathe in and out slowly starting from the lower abs through the rib cage and into chest and exhale starting from the chest down slowly. You can do this in the shower, in bed, while driving and especially during your stretches.

4. If You Could Just Choose One Pose

5. True Self Care

Unlike, shopping for a new pair of shoes you say you deserve or not finding the time to truly care for yourself, Stretching is one of the many things that overlooked that can bring great benefits to our physical and mental health. 

By taking a few minutes to breathe a little deeper and stretch our muscles we can show self-care and intern we are rewarded with mobility, more energy, and a sense of calmness. 

Secret:

Mentally prepare yourself to take care of yourself every day and then start.

Note: If you are pregnant or have any chronic condition or an injury, consult your healthcare provider before starting any stretching or exercise program.

Some Stretches to Start off With

Seated Forward Fold:

 

  • Sit down with your legs flat in front of you and feet together. 
  • Slowly raise your arms above your head, lengthening your spine.
  • Exhale as you lean forward, keeping your back straight, and try to touch your toes.
  • Hold the pose for 30 to 60 seconds. 

Cobra Pose: 

 

  • Lie down on your abdomen and place your hands under your shoulders, palms flat on the mat and elbows pressed against your sides.
  • Slowly straighten your arms and lift your chest off the ground while keeping your abdomen and legs firmly on the mat. 
  • Roll your shoulders back and make sure your elbows are still hugging the sides as you gaze upward.
  • Hold the pose for 15-20 seconds. 

Puppy Pose:

 

  • Get on all fours.
  • Place your wrists directly beneath your shoulders and your knees stacked directly under your hips. The top of your feet should be touching the mat.
  • Slowly start walking your hands forward, gently lowering your torso toward the ground and resting either your forehead or chin on the mat.
  • Pull the hips back while engaging your arms, keeping elbows slightly above the ground. Stretch along your spine and shoulders to deepen the stretch. 
  • Hold the pose for a few breaths or 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Slowly lift your head up and walk your hands back toward your body to exit the pose.

Enjoy lo-fi tropical music.

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