The importance of stretching every day should not be underestimated. Doing a full-body stretch can benefit you both physically and mentally. In this blog, we’ll discuss the benefits of having a daily stretching routine and recommend some stretching exercises to do on your own.
Benefits of Stretching
As stretching becomes part of your daily routine, your body should become more flexible as your muscles loosen up. Stretching will improve your range of motion and blood circulation, so it should minimize your risk of an injury like a sprain or strain. If you suffer from a chronic condition, such as osteoarthritis, stretching can help reduce pain and discomfort as well.
Daily stretching can also serve as a time to prepare for the day ahead or wind down from the day behind you. Take slow, deep breaths to promote relaxation.
Types of Stretches
There are many types of stretches, but the two most common types are dynamic and static stretches.
- Static Stretching – This type of stretching involves holding a specific pose for a few seconds. This helps loosen tight muscles, so these stretches are helpful after a workout or a long day. We’ll generally be focusing on these types of stretches in this blog.
- Dynamic Stretching – This type of stretching involves actively moving your joints and muscles through its full range of motion — like lunges and arm circles. This is typically done before exercising so your muscles are warmed up and ready to move.
How to Stretch
To get the best results, set aside 10 – 15 minutes each morning or night to stretch. This gives you enough time to gradually work through your muscle groups and to hold each stretch. Each stretch should be held for 10 – 30 seconds. To ensure that you hit every major muscle group, start your stretches at the top of your body and then begin working your way down. If the muscles still feel tight at the end, repeat the stretches and give those areas some extra attention.
At first, the stretch may feel uncomfortable, but as you continue your daily stretching routine, your body should loosen up. If you feel pain at any time, don’t try to force it. Instead, stop stretching and rest the area. If the pain persists, schedule an appointment with a doctor to assess the problem.
While stretching, avoid locking joints and bouncing as this increases your risk of injury. Instead, have a steady balance with good posture.
Stretches to Try
Here are some exercises to try to get a full-body stretch. These are static stretches that you can do when you wake up, before you go to bed, or after a workout. They’ll help loosen tight and stiff muscles. Give these a try, but feel free to add in your own variations.
- Neck Roll – Begin with your head facing straight-forward, then gently roll your head to the side, to the back, to the other side, to the front, and then back to the starting position. Do this about five times, rest, and then do it again going the opposite way.
- Shoulder Roll – Stand up straight with your arms to your sides. Slowly raise your shoulders and roll them into a circular motion. Roll forward five times and then reverse the motion.
- Tricep Stretch – With good posture, bend your left arm and bring your elbow to your head so that your hand touches the back of your neck. With your right hand, pull your left elbow toward your head with light pressure. Hold this stretch and then switch sides.
- Chest Stretch – While standing in a doorway or a corner, place your arms vertically on the doorframe or wall. Slowly lean forward until you feel your chest stretching. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and then repeat.
- Standing Hip Rotation – Standing straight with your hands on your hips, slowly rotate your hips forward and then clockwise three times. Bring your hips back to the center and then go counterclockwise.
- Hamstring Stretch – While standing, bring your left leg forward and flex your left foot (heel on the ground, toes pointing up). Place your hands on your thigh and slowly lean forward at your hips while raising your toes. Hold this stretch and then switch legs.
- Standing Quadriceps Stretch – While standing upright, balance on your right foot while you bend your left knee behind you. Grab at your ankle and slowly press it towards your left buttock. Hold this stretch and then switch sides. If you need extra support, stand by a wall or chair to help you balance.
- Ankle Circles – Raise your right heel a few inches off the ground and point your toes. While pointing your toes, rotate your ankle clockwise ten times, then counterclockwise, and then switch ankles.
- Child’s Pose – In a seated position on the ground, pull your ankles behind you so you’re sitting on your calves with the tops of your feet on the ground. Put your arms out in front of you on the ground and sit back into your heels. Lower your chest to the floor and slide your arms forward. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat.
Want more stretches? Here are some more static exercises to try.
Visit Prairie Orthopaedic
Setting aside a few minutes every day to do your daily stretching routine can be very beneficial to your mental health and physical wellbeing. Stretching keeps your muscles loose, improves your range of motion, reduces pain, and prevents injuries. If you experience pain while stretching, this may indicate a more serious problem that needs to be addressed by a doctor. The experts at Prairie Orthopaedic & Plastic Surgery, PC are here to help with any pain or injury. To schedule an appointment, please call 402-489-4700.