Benefits of Stretching, and how to make it a Routine

The benefits of stretching play on a variety of levels. Not only are there many physical and mental benefits like improving posture, easing stress, and even reducing aches and pains, stretching can also pinpoint bodily imbalances, decrease the risk of injury in simple activities (like sitting/standing/twisting), and can also make day-to-day life feel easier by improving range of motion and flexibility.


Keep reading to learn more about the two most common types of stretching, the top benefits of adding it into your daily life, plus tips on how to create your own routine.


LEARN TO BEND, SO YOU DON'T BREAK!

The first thing that might come to mind when you think about stretching may be that you have to hold your pose for ages, or - 'I'm just not flexible' enough, or - what's the point if I didn't exercise?

The universal truth about stretching is that everybody should do it, every day! And, although it can certainly 'pose' as a form of meditation, you don't have to take an hour (or more) out of your day, unless of course that's your jam, to take a yoga class in order to get a good stretch. Nor do you have to stretch to the point of pain, be a fitness pro, or already be flexible to reap the benefits.


Something as simple as a few shoulder shrugs, neck circles, reaching your arms long up toward the sky, and the ‘yes’ stretch, are all great ways to get started, and can conveniently be done anywhere, any time of day, and only take seconds to perform. You can even stack them with other habits like brushing your teeth or while sitting on the couch watching your favorite shows. A few little stretches a couple times of day can make a BIG difference.


If looking for long-term improvements in flexibility or range of motion it is recommended to stretch up to 3 times a day in order to see noticeable results.


Top benefits of Stretching include:


  • Decreases the Risk of Injury

  • Can Ease Stress and Help with Relaxation

  • Helps Decrease Tension Headaches

  • Aids in Healing and Preventing Back Pain

  • Increases Flexibility and Range of Motion

  • Primes Performance in Physical Activity

  • Improves Blood Flow to your Muscles

  • Improves Posture

  • Pinpoints Bodily Imbalances

  • Makes Day-to-Day Life Feel Easier

  • Serves as an Act of Self-Care

 

Stretching Techniques:


There are several different types of stretching techniques. The 2 most commonly practiced are Dynamic and Static.


Dynamic Stretches: are active movements that stretch the muscles, but the stretch is not held in the end position. This type of stretch is likely going to be done before exercise to get your muscles ready for movement.


Static Stretches: involve holding a stretch for a period of time, typically between 10 and 30 seconds. This form of stretching is most beneficial after you exercise, unless you are taking a yoga class.


A Few Safety Tips:


Everybody should follow a few standard safety tips when stretching, regardless of their fitness level.

  • Avoid stretching to the point of discomfort

  • Don't bounce

  • Alternate between what muscle is being stretched

  • Only stretch when your body has been warmed up

Stretching isn't always comfortable, but it should never hurt. If your feeling pain while stretching back off a bit and ease back into position when ready, and always alternate which muscles are being stretched to avoid over doing it. Always keep in mind it is best to stretch post workout when the body is warm. If you don't have an exercise routine but want to stretch, a quick (2 minute) warm up like marching in place should do the trick. Or, consider stretching after a hot shower. Only use ballistic (bouncing) types of stretching if instructed by a doctor or physical therapist.



How to Create your own Stretch Routine


Whether you are a seasoned fitness pro, someone who is just starting on their workout and wellness journey, are stuck behind a desk all day, or someone who is in need of better range of motion - Everyone, can reap the benefits of Stretching!


The #1 KEY: Start Small


Tiny Changes = Big Results

This is a great concept to consider when trying to create any type of new, positive, and lasting habits, or routines - even a stretch routine.


The idea when you start a new habit is to make it as easy as possible to start. Starting small requires less time and energy which in turn decreases the chances of overwhelm. When we are overwhelmed, resistance builds, making it is easy to give up. While keeping resistance low increases the likelihood of carrying out any one task in turn building confidence and momentum.


When starting a regular stretching routine, start out slow and give yourself grace. As with other forms of exercise, your body needs time to adjust.


Key #2: Stack your Habits to Create the Routine!


  • First, pick your Intension -

- 'I want to incorporate a 2-3 minute stretch routine a couple days a week'!



  • Second, remember your WHY -

- 'I want to increase my range of motion and feel better in my body so I can live longer, and Stronger!


- 'I want to reduce tension in my neck and shoulders, and calm my mind'!


- 'I want to promote better posture and be more flexible in my daily activities'!


  • Third, set the Behavior & Stack it with a current Habit -

- 'I will stretch for 5 min every Mon, Wed, and Fri, after enjoying my morning cup of coffee'!


- 'I will stretch for 2 to 3 min on Tuesday's and Thursday's after washing my face before going to bed '!


- 'I will stretch for 5-7 min after my mid-morning workout'!


- 'I will stretch for 2-3 min after lunch before going back into the office'!


Key #3: Track your New Routine


For ultimate success in forming this new routine keep track of your progress with a daily tracker. This downloadable and printable habit tracker is a great tool for changing old routines and/or creating new ones.




Final Notes:


You can stretch any time during the day for 2-3 minutes or by joining an hour long yoga class. Whether stretching before or after a workout or simply using it as a way to keep the body functional and feeling good, incorporating a daily stretch into your routine can improve posture, increase range of motion, and ease your mind.


Just STRETCH!