Why a Basic Stretching Routine?
Doing simple stretches every day can make a world of difference in the way you feel in your body. You don’t have to master complicated yoga poses or spend hours with your hands at your feet, simply give yourself 10 minutes a day to this basic stretching routine and you’ll notice the improvements almost immediately!
Benefits of Stretching Daily
There are many benefits of simple stretches:
- Increases circulation of blood and lymph (immune system)
- Improves posture and balance
- Massages and stimulates the organs and glands (aids in balanced bowel movements)
- Lubricates joints for increased mobility
- Oxygenates the brain for mental clarity and emotional balance
- Elongates muscles and fascia/connective tissue for increased flexibility
Your Basic Stretching Routine—10 Stretches in 10 Minutes
One approach is to work from head to toe.
- Neck Rolls: Tilt your ear to your shoulder and roll your chin down and around until your opposite ear is at the opposite shoulder. You can also rotate your neck, looking from side to side. (It’s important to be gentle with these stretches as your neck can be injured easily.)
- Shoulder Rolls: Gently roll shoulders in both directions as well as shrug your shoulders to your ears for a few seconds then release. Finally, rotate your arms around in big circles, both directions
- Doorway Stretch: Place your arm from your elbow to your fingers along the door frame at 90 degrees, and gently lean your body forward, opening your chest. Deepen the stretch by raising your elbow 6-8 inches and stretch as well as lowering your elbow 6-8 inches and stretch. This will get all three parts of your pectoralis muscles.
- Cat/Cow: With your hands and knees placed firmly on the floor (make sure your back is flat), alternate between arching your back like a cat (tucking your chin and tailbone on your exhale) and rounding your back like a cow (lifting your chin and tailbone on your inhale)
- Lunge: Open the front side of your hips by stretching your psoas muscle, which gets extremely tight with all of our sitting and driving. In a lunge position, place your back knee on the floor so you can really lean into opening your abs/hip flexors.
- Figure 4: Stretch out the back side of your hips by laying on your back and placing one ankle on the opposite knee, pulling your legs back with your hands.
- Hamstrings: Whether sitting on the floor with feet straight out in front of you, out to the sides or from a standing position, bend from your waist (make sure your knees are soft) toward your toes. Any way you can feel it, give those hammies a good stretch!
- Quads: While standing, lift one foot toward your backside and hold with the same side hand, keeping your knee pointing straight down.. Make sure to repeat on both sides.
- Calves: Whether you prefer standing on a step and dropping your heels or leaning into a wall with your foot flat on the floor, you will feel this stretch up your entire calf.
- Ankles: Start by rolling your ankles around in circles, then write the alphabet with your toes, point and flex your feet to really loosen up your ankles.
The secret to success is to keep breathing slowly and steadily as you do this basic stretching routine. All you need is 10 minutes to complete these 10 stretches, and you’ll be on your way to a healthier, more flexible you! Once you master these 10 basic moves, you can move onto deeper stretches or even begin practicing basic yoga sequences. The most important thing is that you start!
Incorporating a basic stretching routine into your day will help you achieve balance and serenity amidst your crazy schedule. To further your stress-relieving efforts, consider acupuncture or regular massages.
Disclaimer: Consult your doctor to ensure these stretches are safe for you before you incorporate them into your daily schedule.