5 essential stretches you should do every day - Healthy Living Association

5 essential stretches you should do every day

Have you ever woken up and already felt tired? Then it’s likely your muscles are too tight. Losing flexibility is more than not being able to do gymnastics: it lowers your quality of life! As you become inflexible, your joints lose range of motion, you’re get injured easily and you put excessive stress on certain joints, like your knees. No worries, regaining flexibility is as easy as incorporating a small stretching routine into your daily life.

Stretching, flexibility and physical activity

Many people think flexibility is something that only physically active individuals should do, but this is far from the truth! According to UC Davis’ health department, minimum flexibility ranges are key to ensure joint and total-body health [1]. In fact, staying flexible protects your mobility and independence as you grow older [2].

Here are some benefits of staying flexible [3]:

  • Better posture and balance to prevent falls
  • Less chance of lower back pain -a condition affecting around half of the US population [4]
  • Lower your chances of injury
  • Prevents and/or lowers knee pain

We lose flexibility due to injury, inactivity or just lack of stretching. Among people 65 and older, the main causes are leading a sedentary life and failing to stretch consistently. Luckily, with some easy stretches you’ll ensure your muscles stay long, lean and flexible. Plus, the change will be evident in as little as a couple of weeks! Of course, it’ll take your body a few months to completely regain range of movement.

A small caveat before moving forward: you shouldn’t do any of these stretches without warming up your body. Stretching with “cold” muscles increases your chances of tearing and other injuries. Start your stretching routine with a short 5-minute walk around your home, your garden or the block. This will get your blood pumping and your muscles ready.

Now that you’ve made sure your body is warmed up, here are 5 expert-approved stretches you should do every day. Stay in every position at least 10 seconds, and try to do all stretches every day.

5 essential stretches you should do every day 100w each

1.      Lying hip rotation

This is an easy hip flexor stretch that will release some of the pressure from your lower back. To start, lie on your back and bend your knees. Then, cross one ankle over the opposite knee.

To stretch, rotate your hip by moving your knee towards you, then pressing the knee away.

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2.      Towel Hamstring stretch

In this exercise you’ll use a towel or your hands to hold your leg and stretch. The towel will help if you’re particularly tight. To start, lie on your back and bend one knee. Then, wrap a towel around your tight, supporting your leg by holding onto both ends. Your other leg should stay on the floor.

Next, straighten the knee you’re supporting. This movement should be done slowly. Your stretching leg should eventually form a 90º degree angle with the floor, while you use the towel to support the leg.

You should feel a stretch in the back of your thigh. To deepen the stretch, hold the position for longer or straighten your leg even more.

3.      Wall hamstring stretch

This one is similar to the towel hamstring stretch. To do it, you need access to a wall or a tall couch with enough space for you to lie down close to it. Start by lying on the floor, with your hips facing to the wall.

While keeping one leg on the floor, place the other leg on the wall or the couch. Straighten up your leg as much as you can, trying to keep your core engaged and your back flushed to the floor.

To make this stretch easier, bend your leg or lie further away from the wall.

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4.      Child’s pose

This classic yoga pose releases tension from your back, aligns your spine and helps with neck cramps. To start, kneel on the floor using either a thick blanket or a yoga mat to protect your knees. Then, sit your hips back while you lower your torso to the floor, between your knees.

Extend your arms on the floor, above your head and with your palms facing down. Breathe in and out while you relax your spine.

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Since this pose is easy on your joints, you can stay in it for up to 90 seconds. If your knees hurt, try using extra cushioning.

5.      Seated shoulder squeeze

Perfect to deal with poor posture or a day of computer work, this stretch releases upper back tension. To do it, sit on the floor or on a chair with your back straight. Then, clasp your hands behind you and straighten your arms. While doing this, you should lower your shoulders and feel how your shoulder blades squeeze together.

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Maintain the position for 5 seconds, then release. Repeat this up to 10 times, or until it feels comfortable.

We hope these stretches help you feel better and less stiff after a long day. Let us know how it goes!

References

  1. UC Davis Health Department. Available here.
  2. The importance of stretching. Harvard Health Letter. Available here.
  3. Garber CE, Blissmer B, Deschenes MR, Franklin BA, Lamonte MJ, Lee IM, Nieman DC, Swain DP. American College of Sports Medicine. American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory, musculoskeletal, and neuromotor fitness in apparently healthy adults: Guidance for prescribing exercise. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2011;43(7):1334–1359.
  4. Back pain facts and statistics. American Chiropractor’s Association. Available here.

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