Just because you can’t contort your body like a human pretzel doesn’t mean you should altogether neglect your body’s need for daily stretching. Yawn, and the release feels incredible. Arch your back to the sky, and you feel even better. Touch your toes, and you no doubt will feel like a rock star. But what’s the trick to getting there? Is it part ability, or part mental—or both? Here are some tips to get you stretching with success in the right direction…and from head to toe in no time at all!
Make Stretching Part of Your Normal Routine
Everyone has a normal routine, but whether it’s a healthy one is a whole different matter. Is your morning routine a bagel with full-fat cream cheese, or 20-30 minutes a day in which your stretch out the tight muscle groups in your body?
Stretching at the same time every day is a great new ritual to add to your busy schedule. Stick to the same time every day so that it becomes a habit, and choose first thing in the morning as your preferred time so that it starts your day off on that ‘feel good’ foot!
If you’re usually crunched for time in the morning, spend just one week committed to waking up half an hour earlier. Upon your alarm ringing, go downstairs and sit in a comfortable position (while the coffee maker is fixing you a strong pot of dark roast!) Take a deep breathe. Extend your legs in front of you, and with your arms straight out and parallel to your feet, reach for your toes.
Take a deep breathe in (make sure you’re not holding your breath as you want to keep your oxygen flow going!) and reach as far as you can. With the right mindset and a commitment to 20-30 minutes of stretching daily, you’ll be able to touch your toes in no time!
Don’t Forget to Inhale, Exhale (and Inhale Again!)
Most of us don’t realize how crucial correct breathing is when it comes to gaining flexibility. Becoming flexible isn’t just about our limbs, muscle groups and the range of motion in which we can extend ourselves. It’s also about a connection and commitment we have to make our bodies feel the best it possibly can! Who wants tight muscles, anyways? Who wants a painful neck or back?
If you feel “tight” in your back, your neck, your hips and your shoulders, stretching needs to become a part of your daily routine. Achieve flexibility by committing to ‘belly breaths’, which in turn, will help you connect to your body AND mind.
Breathe deeply as you begin your next stretch session. Does your breath feel ‘shallow’ as though it’s coming from your chest? Look at your stomach, and breathe again. This time, breathe from your ‘belly’ or abdomen. You’ll know you’re doing this correctly if you can see your abdomen expand and contract.
With each exercise (from a good old arch of your back to a squat) give your body a belly breath. Breathe in deeply from your abdomen and hold it for about 3-5 seconds. Then, release the stretch position while simultaneously exhaling. Repeat with each stretch you do.
It’s All About Repetition!
Almost every new skill learned, achieved and mastered calls for repetition. Infants learn to speak by repeating words over and over. If you are new to a cardio class you’ve never tried before, you learn the routine by rehearsing the steps over and over again. Just like all other things in life worth having, a flexible body is achieved when you devote time to it as often as possible. Do you want to know the fast track to a flexible body?
Stretch multiple times a day—every day—for a few weeks, and you’ll become the agile, bendable person you long to be! Continue to stretch daily, and your body will feel better than it ever has with muscles that work for you (instead of feeling like they’re fighting against you.)
With a commitment to a daily stretch, and being conscious of the amazing changes your body is going through, you’ll continue to realize how strong, resilient and transformative your body truly is.