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Stretch It Out!
When we decide to live a more active lifestyle, we often times forget one key element. We work hard towards changing our mindsets and outlook towards working out and so much of our energy and time is suddenly put towards trying to fit in a circuit class here, a barre class there, and a run in between it all – yet stretching barely crosses our minds.
I don’t blame you… after getting your ass kicked during spinning, hopping in the shower is the first thing that you want to do. My goal for this blog post is to make you understand just how important stretching is. The benefits of stretching are literally endless!
Here’s what a good stretch can do to your body:
- Helps athletic performance by increasing overall mobility, speed, flexibility, range of motion, and alignment
- Helps recover from injuries faster and helps prevent them
- Helps recover from overtraining and sore muscles
- Promotes relaxation
- Helps lengthen muscles and improves posture
- Increases blood flow, enabling more oxygen to reach the muscles
I want to highlight one of the benefits listed above: stretching helps increase your blood flow.
“A boost in circulation means a decrease in inflammation in your body, which is crazy important. As I have said over and over again, inflammation is the cause of 90% of all our aches and pains. So, the more we decrease inflammation, the more we increase our overall well-being”.
Also, good blood circulation promotes healthy cell growth and better organ function. You may even notice better digestion when getting used to stretching regularly!
Another major benefit of stretching is that it can be done (and should be done) by anyone and everyone, regardless of your age, sex, or athletic ability.
Stretching and maintaining a healthy range of motion in your joints is key to youthful aging. Stiff joints can create an incredible amount of discomfort leaving you more prone for injury. Which is also why I like to recommend supplementing your diet with a premium quality Marine Collagen to better support joint health, all while promoting healthy skin, hair & nails.
Increasing your flexibility helps sooo much, since it decreases muscle tension, all while relieving unnecessary stress on your joints!
Stretching is incredibly important. I tell my clients that if they don’t have time to break a sweat of go to the gym during the day, taking (or making) the time to stretch is worth it. Taking 10 minutes to reconvene with yourself, stretch and realign your body is extremely beneficial. Try this: stand up from your office chair and stretch every couple of hours – you may find yourself being more productive and efficient! I also highly recommend doing stretching exercises when traveling or after a long day.
Ready, Set, Stretch!
Here are a few of my favourite yoga inspired stretches that I do before or after my workouts.
1. Downward dog
I always start my stretches with a Downward Facing Dog – it’s one of my favourites! It creates length throughout the entire body and relieves stiffness in the back and between the shoulders.
Start by getting into Table Top Position, on hands and knees. Spread your palms shoulder-width apart, and keep your shoulders over your wrists.
Curl your toes under, and walk your palms just out in front of the shoulders. Then, raise your knees off the mat, and lift your hips up high. Try straightening your legs and keep pointing your toes forward. Do not lock your legs (keep a micro bed in your knees to prevent injury!).
Hold this position for 5-10 breaths and release onto your knees to come out of the posture.
2. Three-legged down dog
This is the ultimate hamstring stretch. Get into a traditional down dog position. Make sure your stomach is properly tucked in and arms are shoulder width apart. Once your down dog feels steady, try extending your legs up straight, creating a straight line, running from the tip of your head to the tip of your toes. This deepens the hamstring stretch in your supporting leg and feels absolutely amazing! Don’t forget to do this position with both legs.
Tip: to deepen the stretch, you can try moving your leg up and down 5 times.
Want an extra challenge?! Try it with a twist!
Once you feel comfortable doing the three-legged down dog, this move will come naturally to you. Keeping your supporting leg steady and straight, (keep that hamstring stretch!) bend your other leg and open your hip, enabling you to do a slight spinal twist.
Hamstrings and back – get ready!
The Warrior pose stretches the whole front side of the body while strengthening the thighs, ankles, and back. This pose also opens up the lungs and chest, improving your breathing capacity!
Begin by standing with your feet hip-distance apart and your arms by your sides. Then, step your feet wide apart, about 4-5 feet distance. Turn your right foot 90 degrees, so that your toes are pointing to the top of the mat. Pivot your left foot inwards at a 45-degree angle, while keeping your pelvis straight, turn your gaze towards the front of your mat.
Bend your right knee over your right ankle while reaching up strongly through your arms. Reach up through your arms while lifting up through your chest. Keep your fingers reaching!
Hold for up to 1 minutes (remember to breathe!) and do both sides.
5. Camel pose
The Camel pose helps stretch out the back and hips, but is also a great energy booster!
Start by kneeling on the floor with your knees hip width and thighs perpendicular to the floor. Press your shins and the tops of your feet firmly into the floor.
Rest your hands ont he back of your pelvis (the bases of your palms should be on the top of your buttocks, fingers pointing down). Use your hands to lengthen your back while lifting your heart and pressing your shoulder blades against your back ribs.
Press your palms firmly against your heels, keeping your fingers pointing toward your toes.
Hold this position anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute – breathing deeply!
6. Pigeon pose
The Pigeon pose is the best hip opener! Make sure that your body is warmed up before getting into this position, as it’s a deeper stretch.
Start by getting into Downward Facing Dog or Table Top Position. Extend your right leg back behind you. Bend your left knee and keep your pelvis facing forward.
Your left shin should be perpendicular to the front edge of your mat, or in towards your grown (at 45 degrees) – this depends on your level of flexibility!
Settle in by adjusting your leg to avoid excess pressure on your knee and bringing your pelvis to center. Try balancing your weight evenly between your right and left hips.
Begin with the hands pressed in front of the front leg, or by your sides. If you’re feeling up for the challenge, try grabbing your back ankle while lifting your other arm up!
Hold this pose for about 10 breaths and do the other side
7. Child’s pose
Ahhhh…This is my absolute go-to. Anytime, during any workout, if I need to release tension or feel out of balance, I ground myself by getting into the child’s pose position, it’s a great reset. I also start and finish my stretching series with this move.
You can either do child’s pose actively or passively. An active child’s pose means that your arms are stretched out in front of you, finger tips gripping the floor and shoulders lowered. A passive child’s pose means that your arms are slightly bent and relaxed. Your forehead may even be resting on top of your hands.
Hold for 10-20 breaths.
Happy Stretching Glow Getters!
Live your life. Adopt the Global Glow Lifestyle.