There’s nothing like a good stretch to wake us up and give us more energy (and flexibility). The urge to stand up and reach our arms wayyy overhead when we’re feeling tired is almost automatic. The question is, why don’t we do the whole stretching thing more often? The coaches are here to help motivate us by singing the praises of daily stretching and offering a few of their favorites to get started.
9 reasons to stretch daily
While stretching is super important before and after exercise, it’s also a great thing to do throughout the day. Sitting for long periods of time is hard on our bodies, particularly on our glutes, which puts more stress on joints and muscles in other areas of the body, like our lower back and knees. This can lead to chronic tension, which can weaken our muscles and cause unnecessary wear and tear. The goal of stretching is to allow joints and tissues to move freely in all directions.
- When we’re tired our muscles tighten. This can make us feel even more drained. Stretching increases blood flow and circulation and activates our joints and muscles.
- Stretching encourages the release of endorphins, sends oxygen to our brains (for clearer thinking) and helps boost our mood.
- It helps promote cell growth and optimal organ function.
- Stretching–especially rotational stretches–improves posture and keeps our thoracic spine healthy and happy.
- It limits injuries and promotes post-exercise muscle recovery. (After a long day of work or a hard workout, a few strategic stretches helps reduce next-day soreness.)
- Fitness experts recommend flexibility training (a fancy name for stretching) for every major muscle group two or three times a week for better health and to reduce the risk of getting injured.
Stretching hamstrings and hips can relieve stress in your back and significantly reduce back pain.
It can be a relaxing way to unwind at the end of the day and helps improve sleep.
- Stretching puts us in touch with our own bodies so we’re more aware of how we feel and what we need. When tension and tightness occur, we can act long before chronic issues arise.
Where and how to rev up your own stretching routine
Start your day with a quick-and-easy routine while your coffee brews. Stretching after a hot shower or bath is best (when your muscles are warm), but if you prefer to stretch right after waking, just remember to go slow and easy. Be sure to include upper back and chest release stretches, side stretches, spinal twists, quad and hamstring stretches and a few forward bends.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- One at a time, put your foot on a chair, flexing your toes toward the ceiling, to stretch your hamstrings.
- Extend one arm up and over to the opposite side to stretch your torso and side body. (Repeat on both sides.)
- Hook your hands behind your back while standing and push your chest forward. (This is also said to open heart energy.)
- Lie on your back and hold the soles of your feet in the air in a u-shape like a baby would in his crib (a.k.a. “happy baby”). This stretch is deeply relaxing and best if you hold it for 2-5 minutes.
- Before exercising, do dynamic stretches that mimic the exercise you’re about to do. For example, if you’re going for a jog, slowly draw a vertical line with your foot to simulate the jogging motion. (You’re always moving with dynamic stretching.)
- Opening up the hips and loosening the back are a must. Check out this video from our own Coach Chloe.
It’s amazing the difference 5 to 10 minutes of daily stretching in the morning, plus taking short breaks throughout the day, can make. Your mood, productivity, posture and overall health will thank you.
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