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When you start a new exercise class or follow a routine online, the instructor always recommends stretching after your workout. It’s a helpful practice after physical activities, but it’s also something you can do daily. Follow this full-body stretching routine to keep your muscles healthy and your body feeling great.
Benefits of Stretching
Stretching is essential for numerous reasons. It does more than relax your body after exercising or periods of tension. It also provides physical benefits like these.
Improved Range of Motion
People who practice dynamic stretching often experience a better range of motion because they make complete movement stretches. Your joints can move more easily by moving your muscles through their full range of motions.
Less Injury Risk
You can also practice static stretching to reduce your risk of injury after exercising. As your muscles heal from the microscopic tears created by intense exercise, they’re more at risk of seizing or failing during movement. You might develop an injury if they don’t stretch gently and hold in place with each stretch.
Decreased Physical Pain
Sometimes sitting at a desk for work leads to lower back pain. It often happens because people don’t realize they have bad posture. By stretching during and after work, you could decrease your lower back pain and improve your posture by strengthening your muscles.
Steps for a Full-Body Stretching Routine
If you’re ready to regain control of your comfort, practice this full-body stretching routine daily to keep your muscles at peak condition.
1. Start With Your Calves
Imagine you just finished essential bodyweight exercises like squats and lunges. Your calves are the muscles behind your shins and they may feel too tight due to the movements you just finished.
Whether you just exercised or not, start your full-body stretching routine with your calves. Plant your feet flat on the ground and lean forward toward the back of a chair or wall. Your ankles should stay on the floor, which pulls your calf muscles gently.
Hold this stretch for 10–30 seconds before resting and repeating. You can repeat this stretch until your calves are no longer uncomfortable.
2. Stretch Your Hamstrings
Next, it’s time to sit on the ground. Extend your legs in front of you while you’re sitting. Point your toes toward the ceiling and bend toward your knees. Your leg should stay flat on the floor as you lean down.
Ideally, you should hold your toes and touch your knees with your nose. However, don’t push yourself if you aren’t that flexible yet. Lean down and hold yourself just before the point of discomfort.
Stay in this position for at least 30 seconds before sitting straight again. Repeat until your legs and hamstrings feel loose and warm.
3. Ease Your Glutes
Lay down with your back to the floor and pull your knees to your chest. With your feet in the air, cross one leg over the other. One should be horizontal with the floor, while the other should be flat like the ceiling.
Pull the leg facing the ceiling toward your chest. You’ll feel your glutes stretch in this gentle position. Repeat on each side after holding for 10–30 seconds each. This is also an excellent opportunity to reduce your anxiety with deep breathing that matches your 30-second intervals.
4. Twist Your Upper Back
Move to a flat surface like a chair. Engage your core muscles and turn your upper body in one direction. If you turn right, you would hold onto the right armrest with both hands and turn your upper body in that direction.
This stretch pulls the muscles in your upper back, which can become strained with exercising or poor posture. You may also pop a few joints in your back by realigning them, but only if you push farther than an average stretch.
5. Press Your Shoulders Together
Hold your arms at 90-degree angles while aligning them with your collarbone. Your palms should be flat and face forward. Push your elbows back while keeping your arms in the same position. Your shoulders will push together, stretching your biceps, chest and rotator cuff muscles.
You can hold this stretch for 10–30 seconds before pulling your arms back in alignment with your collarbone. Repeat as needed, even in places like your workspace.
6. Rotate Your Head
There are numerous reasons why your neck might hurt during the day. It could relate to staring at your phone or laptop when they’re below your eye level, leading to dry eyes and puffiness.
Your neck may also ache after sleeping in the wrong position or if your joints become inflamed. You can repeat this final movement in your full-body stretching routine whenever it feels uncomfortable.
Sit straight in a chair and let your head slowly fall to your chest. Roll your head clockwise for 10 seconds, then counterclockwise for 10 seconds. You can also lean your head left and hold it there for the same interval before moving it to the right.
This movement stretches your scalene muscles mindfully. Take your time with this gentle stretch to complete your routine and feel some muscle ache relief.
Potential Concerns When Stretching
When you’re stretching, pay attention to your positioning and speed. Moving into and out of stretches too fast could tear your muscles. You’ll know you have a tear and need medical attention if you experience symptoms such as:
- Muscle pain
- Limited movement
It’s also possible to overstretch your muscles. If you hold stretch positions even while you’re in pain, you could make your muscles too loose and injure yourself as your day goes on. Carrying and lifting things or walking with lax muscles could lead to an emergency room trip. Always follow the timed guidance of a stretch routine and avoid pushing yourself to the point of pain.
Dangers of Not Stretching
If you have the opposite problem and rarely stretch your muscles, you could also experience health hazards like:
- Tight muscles
- Limited movement
- Pain when moving
- Muscle damage
Stretching routinely and after exercising are simple ways to avoid these problems. You can also talk with your doctor if you have questions regarding stretching with your specific health conditions.
Best Time to Stretch
There’s never a bad time to stretch. Your muscles remain engaged when you’re sitting, exercising and sleeping. However, consider these opportunities if you need some inspiration:
- After exercising
- Before exercising
- After sitting all-day
- After waking up
- Before going to sleep
Improve Your Comfort With Stretching
Try using this full-body stretching routine to ease some of your physical discomforts. You may have improved mobility and flexibility after just a few days of stretching. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about adding stretching to your lifestyle with your current health conditions or recent medical procedures.
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