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Stretches You NEED In Your Daily Wellness Routine
by Emily Patnaude Jul 07, 2023
We all know that exercise and movement is so important to keeping us physically and mentally healthy, but many of us neglect one crucial part of our wellness routine: stretching! Many people don’t prioritize stretching daily – and while it may seem like an insignificant activity, studies show that implementing regular stretching into your routine can make a huge difference in your overall health.
The Benefits of Stretching
When we think of the reasons for stretching, we often look to high-performance athletes, ultramarathoners and extreme sport enthusiasts as the ones who may reap the benefits of stretching the most. Sure, stretching helps athletes stay loose, limber and avoid injuries, but it can also benefit others in ways we might not have known.
Studies have shown that regular stretching helps improve muscle flexibility and range of motion in your joints, which leads to overall improved flexibility. This improved flexibility may improve performance in physical activities, decrease risk of injuries, boost oxygen levels, and increase blood flow and nutrient delivery to the muscles. Physical benefits aside, stretching has even been shown to increase serotonin levels (the hormone that helps stabilize our mood and reduce stress), helping us feel better mentally and emotionally.
For many of us, stretching takes a backseat when it comes to our daily movement, and it’s definitely time to start making it a priority. We’ve compiled a list of stretches that you can turn to whenever you need them, whether that be pre-workout, post-workout, after waking up in the morning, or before getting into bed at night.
Properly warming up and stretching before a workout is crucial to preventing injury, and benefits include increased blood flow, flexibility and range of motion. Try out a few of these pre-workout stretches before you hit the gym or running trail.
Great for warming up, improving mobility and coordination, and increasing hip strength.
Begin standing straight with your legs together and arms flat at your sides. Bend your knees slightly and jump into the air, spreading your legs shoulder-width apart and stretching your arms out and over your head. Jump to return back to the starting position and repeat.
* Pro Tip: For lower impact, simply step feet apart instead of jumping.
Warms up the hip muscles and joints, stretches the quadriceps, hamstrings and groin muscles.
Using a wall or pole to maintain balance, stand straight. While keeping your hips aligned, swing one leg forward and backward in a single smooth movement. Switch sides and repeat to complete the set (10 swings/leg).
Next, face the wall and swing one leg side to side laterally, repeating on the other side to complete the next set (10 swings/leg).
Strengthens the leg muscles and knee joints, improves flexibility in the lower body, and strengthens the lower back.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. With your toes pointed slightly out and core engaged, bend your knees and push your hips back as you squat down until your thighs are parallel with the ground, then return to starting position.
* Pro Tip: Remember to keep your chest up. Hold your hands straight in front or clasp your hands in front — whatever is most comfortable.
You may be tempted to jump straight into relaxation mode after a workout, but before sitting down or hopping in the shower, it’s important to get at least a few minutes of stretching in after exercising. Stretching after a workout reduces pain and risk of injury, gradually relaxes the body, and eliminates lactic acid, a substance that is produced during exercise which can make muscles achy and tired.
Seated Hamstring Stretch
Improves posture and increases flexibility.
Sit with one leg extended and your back straight. Bend your other leg so that the sole of your foot rests against your mid-thigh.
Reach toward your ankle. Keep your knee, neck, and back straight.
Feel the stretch in the back of your thigh.
Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, and repeat on the other leg.
Standing Quad Stretch
Increases mobility and flexibility in the knee and hip joints, and stretches the quadricep muscles.
Stand on your left leg and using your right hand, grab your right foot and pull it toward your lower back until you feel the stretch in your quad muscle.
Hold for 30-60 seconds, and repeat on the other leg.
* Pro Tip: Hold on to a chair or the wall to keep you steady during this stretch.
A common yoga pose that stretches and strengthens the whole body. – upper body, arms, back, shoulders, abdomen and legs.
Starting on all fours and making sure your knees are slightly behind your hips, spread your fingers out wide and press your hands into the ground.
Gently tuck your toes under, take a deep inhale, and lift your knees off of the floor, straightening your legs as much as possible.
Hold for as long as needed, and return to the starting position.
There’s one legitimate reason for hitting snooze and staying in bed a few minutes longer: stretching! Stretching in bed can make mornings a little less painful by gently waking up any stiff or creaky muscles and joints before starting your day.
Full Body Stretch
You probably already do this most mornings after waking up, but let’s add some more mindfulness into this feel-good stretch in order to awaken your muscles and get your blood flowing.
Lie on your back – stretch your arms overhead and reach your toes down as far as possible, as if you’re being pulled in opposite directions.
Circle out your wrists and ankles while in this stretch.
Single Knee Pull
Stretches the hips and lower back muscles.
Lie on your back with both legs extending out straight in front of you.
Bend your right knee and hug the knee towards your chest, placing hands on your right shin or the back of your right thigh.
Breathe deeply and hold for 20-30 seconds, then return to the starting position and repeat with the other leg.
Soft Side Stretch
Stretches the back, upper arms and obliques.
Sit in the center of your bed with your legs crossed.
Interlace your fingers with your palms facing out, and extend both arms straight above your head.
Without lifting your butt off the bed, slowly bend from the waist to your left.
Pause, then return to center and repeat on the right side.
From working at a desk, to riding in the car and eating meals, it’s no surprise that most Americans spend an average of 13 hours a day sitting down, which can leave us feeling restless when it’s time to hit the hay. Stretching before getting into bed is one of the best ways to release built up tension, reduce stress, and get a better night’s sleep.
Helps increase spinal mobility and eases back stiffness.
Lay on your back and extend both arms out from your sides.
Slowly cross your left leg over the right side of your body and allow it to fall naturally to the floor, making sure both shoulders stay flush to the ground.
Hold for as long as necessary, and repeat on the other side.
* Pro Tip: For a deeper twist, turn your head to the left while crossing the left leg over the body, and vice versa for the right side.
Great for stretching the inner thighs and lower back.
Sitting with your legs in front of you, bring both soles of your feet together to touch.
Rest in this position, or hinge forward from the hips to deepen the stretch.
This common yoga pose eases tight shoulders, releases tension in the neck, and stretches the back.
On your hands and knees, sit back onto your heels with your arms extended, ensuring that your toes come together to touch and your knees are at least hip widths distance apart.
Walk your hands forward until you are nearly flat on the ground, and then relax your head to the floor.
We hope you loved this roundup of our fave stretches to do morning, afternoon and night for improved flexibility and overall health! For an additional tool to add to your recovery repertoire, check out our newly formulated Recovery Roll-On, now with 2x the menthol and 33% more CBD (you can read more about our new and improved formula here).
For help finding your unique routine with EQ, be sure to book a wellness coaching session with one of our Certified Wellness Coaches at myeq.com/wellness.
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