Stretching

Everyone knows that stretching is good for you. We all look at professional yoga instructors and can’t believe the positions they can put themselves in. That is great for them but most people can barely touch their toes. Instead of trying to get you to an unrealistic flexibility, this post will help you to figure out some key times to stretch, how to stretch at those times, and generally just trying to improve flexibility in a realistic way. (All stretches will be explained at the end of the article)

It is a great idea to keep a stretching schedule. I would suggest to stretch first thing in the morning. After your morning glass of water, do some arm circles and lunges and the cobra. These stretches (among others) are fairly good at stretching your whole body. I also like to stretch my neck anytime I am traveling. While driving on your way to work, stretch your neck. The combination of these morning stretches allow you to start your day of feeling good.

We see lots of people in our office that have tense low back pain and extreme tightness when all they did was sit all day at work. How is it possible for that to happen when all you were doing is sitting? It is fairly simple. Your body wants to move. When we sit constantly for work, it is not necessarily the best thing for your health. The good news is that we can do hourly posture breaks. A posture break takes about 2 minutes. The first thing I would have you do is a seated posture opener. After that I would suggest a standing elongated stretch. These 2 simple stretches help to work on your posture and loosen your body and muscles. At your work lunch break, make sure to walk a little. This encourages blood flow and allows your body to reset. Then continue to use posture breaks until work is over.

The last time I would suggest to stretch is right before bed. Static stretches where you hold the stretch in the same position are good for this. Stretches like holding your arm across your chest and holding your foot to your butt are examples. This will loosen and relax your body and encourage a restful sleep.

If your are going to do a physical activity of any type (sports, hiking, etc.), make sure to do dynamic stretches before and static stretches after. That means that before your activity you will do things like high knees and after you will hold your foot to your butt. Doing the stretches in a different order will work but the current research suggests that doing dynamic stretches before and static stretches after allows you the best workout and recovery when doing them in that order.

The following stretches are some that I have recommended already. These are great stretches to use but there are plenty more that are great as well. This post will not give you every stretch you can do or even the best stretches for your specific body, but great stretches for general flexibility. Arm circles are when you put both arms straight to the side and move them in circles backwards for 10 big circles and forwards for 10 big circles. Lunges are when you move a leg straight to a lunge position where one knee is almost touching the ground. Do 10 each leg. Cobra stretch is when you are on your stomach and lift your upper half of your body up with your arms off the ground. Neck stretches involve moving your neck in every direction and holding it there for 15 seconds. Seated posture opener involves sitting at the edge of your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Put your hands in jazz hands and your arm at 90 degrees. Open your arms up while simultaneously lifting your head and breathing in. Then bring your arms back in front of you, head back to neutral, and breathe out. Repeat 10 times. Standing elongated stretch involves standing up and raising your hands above your head as high as you can while looking up and inhaling in. Then bring your arms back down, your head back down, and breathing out. Repeat 10 times. Static stretches can be found if you google “examples of static stretches.” Dynamic stretches can be found if you google “examples of dynamic stretches.”

If you can follow this stretching schedule or a similar one, you will notice improved flexibility and function in your body!