I have a question for you . . .
Do you stretch?
I used to think stretching was just something I had to do while at gymnastics or before track practice and I absolutely hated it. Mostly because it was painful, in an obvious way, but I also thought it was lame and not necessary.
I found that most people, even athletes, agree. We tend to think stretching is tedious, not fun, and, let’s face it, doesn’t look very cool. On the other hand, we also seem to think stretching is only good for before or after a workout.
[p.s. that’s actually wrong]
I’m here to tell you that stretching is one of the most beneficial things you can add to your health routine in 2019 and it requires very little work AND time!
Studies show that the optimal stretching method is only 30 seconds per muscle, once a day, from four or up to seven days a week in order to reap all the benefits.
Something I can do only 30 seconds a day to improve my health and mobility?! That’s kind of a no brainer, if you ask me, which is one reason why I’ve committed to incorporating stretching into my daily routine.
Plus, there are so many awesome benefits to stretching that I think you’ll love:
reduces low back pain (amen to that!!)
improves blood circulation
encourages good posture (especially if you spend most of your time sitting or on your phone)
eases stress, tension, and anxiety
injury prevention*** - this is probably one of the #1 benefits of stretching both in and out of sport/the gym
lubricates joints and alleviates pain
These are some of the most common health benefits of stretching, while some of the less common benefits might include:
improves confidence due to better quality in movements and daily functional activities
increases self-love - when you take care of your body and make time to nourish yourself in any way you are more caring and loving to yourself
promotes body awareness by allowing you to feel what your body can do, what it’s capable of, and where it feels good and where you need to spend more time focusing on
elevates mood due to the release of endorphins
The thing is, regardless of the intensity, whether it’s a HIIT workout or a quick mobility flow, your body can still react in the same way and still benefit from doing both! So, adding more stretching to your routine this year is definitely one to put on your to-do list. Whether it’s in the morning as soon as you wake up (maybe even some bed yoga) or even midday for a quick burst of energy, you can add more stretching anywhere it feels good for you to give you just the right relief where you need it.
Here are my Top 8 Stretching Exercises for Any Athlete Type
Add any of these exercises into your routine once a day to help reduce back pain, improve circulation, reduce stress, and boost your energy.
[Checkout the fine print for specific, targeted benefits ;)]
1. High Lunge with Spine Twist
AKA World’s Greatest Stretch (WGS)
- an essential stretch to help with posture related pain, especially for those who sit for long periods of time. This stretch helps open up the hips and promotes up body mobility at the same time.
Hips, quads, upper back stretch
2. Standing Hamstring Stretch
The hamstrings play a crucial role in the lower back region. Although this stretch is also great for stretching the entire posterior from the neck all the way down to the calves. This stretch is great for relieving tension in the neck as well as the lower back.
Calves, Hamstrings, Glutes, Back, Neck stretch
3. Child’s pose
This stretch is subtle, gentle, but powerful for easing stress and promoting relaxation. It can also help with relieving back pain.
4. Modified Cobra
AKA Sphinx pose. This stretch is a chest opener and helps to improve posture. It’s also a good stretch for better blood circulation from the lungs and heart (considering they’re in the chest).
Note: don’t do this pose if it causes even more back pain.
5. 90/90 Stretch
This is a modification of pigeon pose targeting a specific muscle called the piriformis which is largely responsible for sciatic nerve pain, as well as the iliopsoas muscle in the front of the thigh near the hip joint.
6. True Quad Stretch
This stretch is more intense but very effective in stretching the quads and the lower side of the body which can also contribute to back pain. Engage the glutei muscle while stretching one arm up and over slightly to the side to feel more stretch in the quad and the side of the hip and side body.
7. Frog Stretch
If you sit with your legs crossed, this one’s for you! It’s also another great stretch for runners to open the inside of the hips and groin area for better hip mobility.
8. Downward Dog
This can be another gentle(for some) but super powerful stretch that is good for just about anything you need - stress relief, better circulation, low back pain, neck tension, tight hamstrings and calves, and just about all of the above. Just sitting in down dog and taking as many deep breaths as my body allows usually does the trick. Add some leg pedaling to open the hamstrings even more.
Let’s get stretchy in 2019!
Comment below and tell me what your favorite method of stretching is right now or what type of stretching techniques you want to add to you routine this year!