Written by Simone Hodgkinson Director of Group Fitness, Spa Lady www.spalady.ca
So we all know we should stretch more, but do you have the tools and knowledge to do it properly?
Stretch is often performed too quickly or completely overlooked in our pursuit for greatness and the perfect body. What we don’t realize is the perfect, healthy body is a body that is long and strong. Keeping muscles strong and long is their most natural position and is the safest thing for our joints.
When a muscle is long and strong it can perform at optimum and is less likely to injure. When a muscle is strong but short, it can make a joint unstable and create injuries. You only have to look at the top MMA fighters; they are strong but they are also very flexibility, thus enabling them to use the body effectively.
When we stretch we create a reflex in the muscle that initially creates a contraction (known as the stretch reflex), if you wait long enough and it is safe to do so (i.e. not too much tension or risk) the muscle will relax (inverse stretch reflex). This is a really important point to consider when you are stretching because you must hold the stretch for 10-30secs to get the release and gain the benefits. It’s important that the body is as comfortable as possible so you can create a safe place for the muscle to signal the release. If you fight the stretch, try too hard and create too much tension you will just signal a contraction, instead of a release.
So if you are starting to recognize the importance of stretch and you need a time efficient program, this article will equip you with a 10min stretch routine that will help your flexibility and improve your posture.
Great for stretching the shoulders, chest and spine
Great for stretching the calves, hamstrings, spine, chest & shoulders. A good full body stretch
Great for stretching the hip flexors
N.B Hip Flexors are a strong dominant muscle group that have a detrimental effect on the lower back and posture if not stretched frequently
Great for stretching the shoulders, chest and triceps. A great upper body mobility exercise
- Kneel down with knees apart and toes together
- Extend the torso forward and rest the head on the floor or a support
- Stretch the arms out and rest the hands on the floor
- Press the armpits towards the floor
- Drop the tailbone towards the heels
- Start kneeling on all fours
- Arms straight, hands pressing into the floor
- Keep the knees bent as you lift hips towards the ceiling
- Press the chest back towards the thighs and stretch the armpits
- Lift the tail bone towards the ceiling
- Try to straighten legs and lower heels towards the floor
- Relax the head
- Start kneeling (option to have hands on a support to keep the back straight)
- Stride L leg back and rest the knee on the floor
- Drop the L buttock so the pelvis is aligned
- Press down into the L hip, keeping the torso lifted
- Chest up, shoulders back and down
- Stand tall and strong
- Extend the R arm up towards the ceiling and bend at the elbow, so the palm of the hand rests in between the shoulder blades
- Extend the L arm out to the side, palm faces the back of the room, then fold the L arm up the back to meet the R hand
- If the hands don’t meet, use a strap in-between