A regular stretching routine can help our body to function at its best, boost our energy. Levels, and relieve the symptoms of aches and pains. A daily stretch routine doesn’t need to be overly intense to make a big difference on the way our body feels, or take up a lot of time to be effective. In fact if we choose the right stretches, we can actually target more than one muscle group at a time. Stretching improves our flexibility, mobility, and our posture too, whilst reducing inflammation and aches and pains. It can help to increase our blood flow and feed our muscles with nutrients and oxygen, which keeps them working at their best, and leave us feeling more energised.
Keep it Simple:
It doesn’t have to be a full yoga class either. Stretching can be simple and gentle and still have a wonderful effect on our bodies, health and our lifestyle. Yes, it’s nice to find the time to attend a yoga class, but we can also have a few stretches in our tool box that we can use every day.
A Whole Body Approach:
When I was younger we would be given specific stretches as part of our training program, but these were often overly specific and missed the point of bringing balance into the body. In short, our stretching should be a full-body, well-rounded routine to alleviate pain and to keep our bodies functioning at their best. It may feel amazing to be able to touch our toes with flexible hamstrings, but if our quadriceps (front thigh muscles) are tight, then the imbalance can cause stress in the joints and even lead to injury. A better way to approach stretching is to stretch multiple groups of muscles simultaneously and to approach the exercises as a whole-body adventure. So, we’ve gathered together a series of really useful stretches and mobility exercises that work well together and help us move our bodies in all planes of movement. These stretches will only take a few minutes and can be added as a great start to the day.
Only stretch within your range, as over-stretching can cause injury, and try and breathe whilst you hold each stretch. The breath will help release the stretch further and make the experience more enjoyable.
Make it fun:
Hey, why not put on some uplifting or relaxing music as you stretch to make the moment more fun? Or stretch with a friend or family member to double the joy. Try these stretches each morning for an increase in energy and fewer aches and pains.
Child’s Pose/ Inverted Child’s Pose:
Release tension in your lower back with this classic. The perfect stretch of the lower back, but can also stretch our shoulders and arms too.
- Rest seat on heels and head on floor.
- Arms by side of body or reaching along mat.
- If you have knee issues, perform inverted and hug knees into torso.
Half Banana: Open up our side body
This will stretch every part of our side body. You may feel it in your shoulders, ribs, hips, legs or even all the mentioned areas.
- Stretch long on mat
- Take one wrist in hand and cross leg on same side over opposite ankle.
- Pull gently on wrist and breathe deeply into side of body.
Hip Stirs: Like oil for our hips
A mobility exercise that helps us feel loose and ready whilst. Reducing hip and back pain.
On back hold knees with hands.
Relax legs fully and stir knees in circles to mobilise hip joint.
Repeat x 3
Figure of 4: Hips feeling like heaven
This is great for opening our hips and relieving tension in the hips and lower back.
- On back place feet on mat with knees bent.
- Cross one ankle over opposite knee.
- Push hands into lifted leg to increase stretch.
Seated Twist: Rise up and rotate
Wonderful for grounding our core muscles, working the stabilisers that help lengthen our spine and bringing a great stretch and twist through our torso.
- Sit crossed legged or on a chair.
- Sit bones firmly grounded.
- Place hands in prayer position and spread fingers wide.
- Place forefinger under chin and thumbs on breast bone.
- Inhale and lift tall.
- Exhale and twist, keeping hands in place against chin and breast bone.
- Inhale and return to center.
Cat & Cow: Ride the wave of your spine
A great way to bring breath and movement into our spine and to release tension in our back and hips.
- On all fours exhale and round back like an angry cat.
- Inhale and arch back up and broaden collar bones.
Down Dog on Chair: All the stretch without sore wrists
A great stretch for the entire back body, very similar to Downward Dog, but without having to put weight through our wrists and hands. A lot of muscle groups getting stretched with this one.
- Place hands on the back of a chair.
- Step feet back to lengthen spine.
- Peddle heels back to stretch back of legs.
- Press head downward between shoulders to stretch arms and shoulders.
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