Stretching to a Healthy Lifestyle
Developing a stretching routine that fits into your everyday lifestyle is crucial. A stretching routine does not have to be intense or lengthy. A normal stretching routine should stretch the entire body and all the major muscle groups and should last about 15-20 minutes. Stretching in the morning after you wake up and in the evening are pivotal times to stretch. Stretching can easily be done in the comfort of your own home and no equipment is needed. Always remember to breath deeply in and out while stretching to increase oxygenation and blood flow. Here is an easy stretching routine that starts from the head and finishes at the feet. Feel free to mix it up or eliminate stretches to fit your needs. Don't overstretch or push the body to far because this can cause injury.
Neck- Start by looking straight forward and bend your ear towards your left shoulder. Bend as far as you can and stop. You should feel a slight stretch in the opposite side of your neck. After a couple of seconds take your left arm over your head and very gently put a little bit of pressure pushing down on your head. Release, and return head to to middle. Then do the same motion on the opposite side. Repeat 10 times, 5 on each side. Next, turn your head to the left with your chin reaching as close to your left shoulder as you can. You should feel a rotational stretch throughout your neck. Hold in this position for 3-5 seconds then return your head to starting position. Do the same stretch on the opposite side. Do this stretch for a total of 10 times. Next, bend your head down towards your chest. If your chin can reach your chest then stop their otherwise bend your neck as far forward as you can go. Hold for 3-5 seconds and return your head to starting position. Bend your head backwards with your face looking at the ceiling. Hold again for 3-5 seconds then relax. Do this stretch for a total of 10 times.
Pectoralis/ Upper Chest- Find a free corner in your house. Stand about 1-2 feet away from the corner. With your right foot step into the corner, and leave your left foot behind. Bring your arms up, bent at the elbow at 90 degrees. Place your forearms against the wall. Lean into the corner or the wall, you may have to bring your back heel off the ground. You should feel a stretch in your arms and upper chest. You have the option to switch feel to get more of a stretch, but don't have to. If you don't have a free corner to do this you can sit on a chair and interlock your fingers behind your head. Bring your elbows to meet in front of your face then separate them as far apart as you can. Again you should feel a stretch throughout the upper chest.
Arms- Take your right arm, extend it out in front of you. Bend at the elbow and grasp your opposite shoulder. Take your left hand and place it on your bent elbow. Gently put a little bit more pressure on your right arm feeling a stretch throughout the back of your right arm and into the shoulder. Hold for 10 seconds, then relax. Do the same with the opposite arm. Next, lift your right arm straight up in the arm above your head. Again bend at the elbow with your hand relaxing behind your head. Take your left hand and place it on the right elbow and gently put pressure on it to feel the stretch throughout the right arm and shoulder. Hold for 10 seconds and then release. Switch arms and do the same thing.
Low back- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Bend down towards the ground with your arms touching the floor (if you can). You should feel the stretch from the low back into the legs. Bend your knees only slightly to feel a deeper stretch. Hold for 10 seconds then return to normal. Bring your feet together. Again bend down, slightly bending at the knee. Hold for 10 seconds and return to starting position. Cross your right foot over your left foot. Bend down, slightly bent at the knee. Hold for 10 seconds then relax. Switch, cross your left foot over your right foot and repeat. Next sit on the edge of any sturdy chair. Sit straight up with your feet properly grounded on the floor. Slowly bend over as far forward as you can. Keep your head and neck relaxed looking down at the floor. You can place your hands on your ankles. Breath deeply to contract the abdominals. Stay in this position for 10 seconds. Relax and come up. Next get on the floor on your hands and knees. Your back should be flat and relaxed. Then in one motion bring your head down and tuck your chin into your chest, while simultaneously arching your back as high as you can and sucking in your stomach. Hold for 2-3 seconds. Then simultaneously lift your head and chest up, looking at the ceiling, while dropping your back into an arch and pushing our your stomach. You can do this 10 times, total.
Low back & legs- Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of your body. Bend your right knee and place your right foot on the outer side of the left leg. Twist your torso and upper body to the right while bringing your left elbow on the outer side of the right knee. Turn your neck and face in the same way as your body is facing, to the right. Bring your right hand and plant it on the ground just behind your buttocks. Putting gentle pressure through your left elbow onto your knee, you should feel stretching through your torso and back. Hold in this position for 10 seconds. Relax and switch sides. Next bring the bottoms of your feet together forcing your knees to bend at your sides. Also known as the butterfly position for the shape it makes, you should already start to feel stretching in the groin and thighs. Using your hands gently put pressure on your knees towards the ground. This should give you a deeper stretch. Hold for 10 seconds and relax. Next lay on your back on the floor. Bring your knees to your chest with your feet off the floor. Hold your knees and contract your abdominals. Hold for 15 seconds. Relax. Next extend your right leg onto the ground, remaining with your left leg at your chest and your back on the ground. With your right arm holding your left knee pull it toward your right shoulder. You should feel a stretch down the back of you leg and into the buttock. Hold for 10 seconds and relax. Then switch legs.
Quads- Standing up, bend your right knee bringing your foot up to your buttocks. Put all your balance on the left leg. Grasp your right foot with your right hand. If you need to steady yourself with a chair or wall. Hold for 15 seconds. Release. Switch legs and repeat.
Calves- Stand parallel to a wall about 1 foot away with your feet shoulder length apart. Turn on the balls of your feet so you are now facing the wall but your feet are still separated. Keeping your feet firmly planted on the ground and your back leg straight, bend your right knee and lean forward placing your hands on the wall. Keep your feet facing straight at the wall and don't let your knee go over your ankle. Hold for 10 seconds. Then switch feet and repeat.
About the Author
Graduated with a BA in exercise science and have worked in the medical field since. My focus is alternative medicine however all aspects of health interest me. Check out my health website! Everyday Health, Live your Life to the fullest!
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