Stretching is an important part of maintaining good physical health. It helps keep muscles and connective tissues flexible, preventing pain and injuries. Stretching also has a number of other benefits, such as reducing stress and anxiety, improving circulation, and promoting better sleep.
Taking all the clues from Clara Baini, founder of Good Day Pilates, this is the perfect sequence for your day. Either in the morning, afternoon or before bedtime.
Benefits Of Stretching
- Increases your flexibility
Regular stretching can help increase your flexibility, which is crucial for your overall health. Not only can improved flexibility help you to perform everyday activities with relative ease, but it can also help delay the reduced mobility that can come with aging.
- Increases your range of motion
Being able to move a joint through its full range of motion gives you more freedom of movement. Stretching on a regular basis can help increase your range of motion.
One Source found that both static and dynamic stretching are effective when it comes to increasing range of motion, although proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF)-type stretching, where you stretch a muscle to its limit, may be more effective for immediate gains.
- Improves your performance in physical activities
Performing dynamic stretches prior to physical activities has been shown to help prepare your muscles for the activity. It may also help improve your performance in an athletic event or exercise.
- Is great for stress relief
When you’re experiencing stress, there’s a good chance your muscles are tense. That’s because your muscles tend to tighten up in response to physical and emotional stress. Focus on areas of your body where you tend to hold your stress, such as your neck, shoulders, and upper back.
- Can calm your mind
Participating in a regular stretching program not only helps increase your flexibility, but it can also calm your mind. While you stretch, focus on mindfulness and meditation exercises, which give your mind a mental break.
- Helps decrease tension headaches
Tension and stress headaches can interfere with your daily life. In addition to a proper diet, adequate hydration, and plenty of rest, stretching may help reduce the tension you feel from headaches.
READ ALSO: GOOD HABITS TO IMPROVE JOINT HEALTH
Baini’s 5-move everyday stretch routine
- Seated cat-cows
Come to sit on your shins (or on a block, if that’s more comfortable for you). Lift your arms up overhead. Interlock your fingers at the top of your neck and gently drop your head into this makeshift cradle, lifting the chest as you do. Look up at the ceiling and breathe. Slowly, come back to the center and tuck your chin towards your chest, curling your back like a cat as you do so. Move back and forth between opening and closing off your chest.
- Seated side stretch
Staying seated, walk your left fingertips about a foot away from your hips. Reach your right arm up alongside your right ear, gently bending toward the left without letting your chest spiral toward the ground. Feel the stretch up your entire right side. Return to center and repeat on the other side.
- Thread the needle
Come onto your hands and knees. Take a moment to double-check that your hips are directly above your knees and your shoulders are directly above your wrists. Reach your right arm up to the ceiling on your right side, allowing your gaze to follow. Then gently thread that right arm underneath the chest. Place your right cheek and right shoulder onto the mat. Spiral your right chest to the right side. Breathe. Come out of the pose slowly, and then switch sides.
- Downward-facing dog
Come back to all fours. Tuck your toes and lift your hips up to the sky, keeping a generous bend in the knees. Do what feels good here: Shift your weight from side to side, bend the knees to touch the chest, or lift one leg at a time to open up the hips. You decide.
- Standing forward fold
From your downward-facing dog, walk the hands back to meet the feet. Keep your knees bent enough that your chest drapes over them, and you feel the stretch in your hamstrings. Let your fingertips graze the floor or grab your elbows with each hand.