One of the things that I have learned is that I don’t stretch nearly as much as I should. As I welcomed in July, I made the declaration that my goals would not be different, but the execution to them would be. The execution to my goals includes daily stretching.
Stretching doesn’t have to take a lot of time. For me, I am incorporating 15 minutes into my routine.
I spend six days a week so that’s a perfect time to get it in. My lunchtime routine looks like this: cardio/stair mill, sauna, stretching and posing. I am in the gym much longer than I have been in a long time because I added the stretching. I am focusing more on my lower half more than anything else in part because of how heavy we are lifting for legs and glutes.
I also added some stretching between sets while lifting. I’ve never been this self conscious about it before. I just realized that if I am going to make changes, I needed to do more than just go see a massage therapist.
Use proper stretching technique
It is essential to practice proper stretching techniques. Doing so will allow you to avoid any unnecessary injury. Tips to proper stretching technique include the following:
Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds. It takes time to lengthen tissues safely. Hold your stretches for at least 30 seconds — and up to 60 seconds for a really tight muscle or problem area. That can seem like a long time, so wear a watch or keep an eye on the clock to make sure you’re holding your stretches long enough. For most of your muscle groups, if you hold the stretches for at least 30 seconds, you’ll need to do each stretch only once.
Don’t bounce. Bouncing as you stretch can cause small tears in the muscle, which leave scar tissue as the muscle heals.
Focus on a pain-free stretch. If you feel pain as you stretch, you’ve gone too far. Back off to the point where you don’t feel any pain, then hold the stretch.
Relax and breathe freely. Don’t hold your breath while you’re stretching.
Stretch both sides. Make sure your joint range of motion is as equal as possible on each side of your body
The benefits of daily stretching
According to the Mayo Clinic, the top five benefits of stretching include:
Increased flexibility and joint range of motion. Flexible muscles can improve your daily performance. Tasks such as lifting packages, bending to tie your shoes or hurrying to catch a bus become easier and less tiring. Flexibility tends to diminish as you get older, but you can regain and maintain it.
Improved circulation. Stretching increases blood flow to your muscles. Blood flowing to your muscles brings nourishment and gets rid of waste byproducts in the muscle tissue. Improved circulation can help shorten your recovery time if you’ve had any muscle injuries.
Better posture. Frequent stretching can help keep your muscles from getting tight, allowing you to maintain proper posture. Good posture can minimize discomfort and keep aches and pains at a minimum.
Stress relief. Stretching relaxes tight, tense muscles that often accompany stress.
Enhanced coordination. Maintaining the full range-of-motion through your joints keeps you in better balance. Coordination and balance will help keep you mobile and less prone to injury from falls, especially as you get older.
Take care of yourself
It’s important to take care of yourself inside and out. I have been spending much of this year in the hands of a massage therapist. It’s been great and everything that I have needed. I can tell when we have a big break between visits.
But I also know that I can do things on my own like daily stretching to help my muscles.
You can stretch at home in front of the TV, before you go to bed, with your kids and more. Stretching does not have to be done in a gym or with any fancy equipment.
Find time to spend a few minutes giving yourself self care. One of those ways right now are these 15 minutes of stretches, which is much appreciated.