By Kelsey Lervants
We all know that stretching is important before an athletic activity but it’s also an important way to begin the day. Daily stretching benefits flexibility, blood flow, range of motion, and decreases your risk of injury. Basically stretching is one of the best activities you can do for your body which is why all physical athletes have stretching routines.
In order to gain the benefits of stretching, you need to do it daily. The best way I have found to do this is in the morning. We all wake up with our muscles all tight from a night’s sleep so it’s good to get them all stretched out first thing. Here in this article I’m going to give you five stretches to help you relieve that tension you feel and start your day off right.
All images courtesy of yoga teacher Katia Grodecki. Visit her website HERE==>
Spinal stretch – first start out lying flat on your back, you can be on a bed or on the floor. Second bend one knee up to your chest keeping the opposite leg extended. Next you rotate your lower body over so that your bent leg crosses the extended leg and your knee touches the floor. While doing this try to keep your shoulder blades flat on the floor and even reaching back the opposite way from which your lower body is twisted. Hold this pose for 30 seconds then rotate to the other side. Repeat these motions 3 times each. This will help lengthen and strengthen the spine.
Chest stretch – here all you need is a doorway. Walk to any open doorway and place both hands on the frame. Then lean through the doorway almost like doing a standing push-up and hold. You will feel the stretch in your chest and the deeper you lean into the doorway the deeper the stretch will be. Hold that position for 30 seconds and repeat it 3 times. You can also do this exercise one arm at a time using the same form which can help you to get a little deeper stretch in your chest.
Side stretch – the side is great for your upper body range of motion. It isolates the stretch down the side of the rib cage and some of the abdominal region. You can perform this stretch both standing and sitting but you want to be upright with a good back posture. Next extend both arms up in the air like your reaching for something on a high shelf. Then with your right hand grab your left wrist. This resembles a kind of divining motion above your head. Then with your right arm begin to pull to the right stretching and exposing the left ribcage. You should feel a deep stretch all the way down your side. Hold this pose for 30 seconds breathing deep breaths. When complete alternate to the opposite side and repeat the process 3 times.
Hamstring stretch – there are a few stretches you can do here depending on flexibility. The first is with your feet together reach upward in the air then bend at the waist coming over where you can grab the tips of your toes. If you are not able to reach your toes, grab your ankles or back of your legs. It’s important to keep form and not bend at the knee. In the second stretch, you will use a bed or chair to bring one leg up to prop your heel on so that it is extended straight out around waist height. This requires you to balance on one leg but tends to give you a deeper hamstring stretch. While standing with one leg up bend at the waist reaching for your toes. You will feel it begin to pull and stretch in the back of your legs/hamstrings. You can adjust the angles of how high your foot is propped to gain a deeper stretch. Hold each pose for 30 seconds then alternate legs. Repeat the process 3 times.
Quad stretch – these stretches are relatively simple and I am sure you have seen or performed them before. This stretch is frequently used by athletes to loosen up their legs before running. To start, face the wall and place your left hand on the wall. Then while bending your right leg at the knee up backward, grab your ankle with your right hand. Begin pulling that leg up towards your back and you should begin to feel the stretch in the front of your leg/ quad region. Hold this pose for 30 seconds then alternate to the opposite leg. Repeat this process 3 times or until your legs feel loose.
As you can see these 5 stretches basically target every muscle group in the body. Using these every will improve your flexibility and muscle function throughout the day. They will also help prevent injury when doing any strenuous activity. Enjoy these stretches in your routine and remember to keep in mind how beneficial they are for your muscles and joints.
Kelsey Lervants is a 26-year-old yoga enthusiast who enjoys learning new organic ways to relieve daily physical pain. She has been a yoga student for three years and a blogger for two. She enjoys helping others in any ways that she can. The main way she helps is by writing about the simple and best things you can do in daily routines to help with pain and other body ailments. Overall, she enjoys life to the fullest and hopes to help and influence others to do the same.