Stretching is more than the act of lengthening tight muscles. Stretching is about connecting with your body and mind, standing tall, moving well, and feeling balanced!
As a fitness coach, martial arts instructor, and Pilates educator, I see it all the time. Most people make time to exercise yet do not make time to stretch. Groan!! Just one more thing we have to do in our already busy lives!
Who has time for stretching? What does stretching actually look like?
Think of stretching as a way to deepen your mind/body connection. The goal is not necessarily to become more flexible, but that is a bonus!
Here is a quick guide to check in with yourself and reflect on how you would benefit from a regular stretching practice! A 10 to 15 minute stretch 3 to 4 times a week can make a huge difference from the way you breath, for your posture, and your overall energy level!
Stretching Self Assessment
Take a moment to check in with your body! You only have one body your whole life, why not get it feeling and moving well! It only takes a few minutes so let's get started, you got this!
1. Sit and Reach: Measure your low back and hamstring flexibility
Sit on the ground with your legs extended straight out in front of you. With your back tall, reach your hands toward your feet. If is this uncomfortable, that is a good indication you will benefit from stretches for those hamstrings and low back. If you can touch your toes comfortably congratulations! This can also change from day to day, one day you can touch but the next day might be tight! Stress does that to the body!
2. Rotation: This measures shoulder and trunk (mid section) range of motion.
Sit on a chair with your feet firmly planted on the floor. Take your left hand onto your right knee and your right hand behind your back. Can you comfortably look over your right shoulder? Try the other side. Often one side is tighter than the other. This little test is also an example of stretching. Try it a few time with slow inhales, and exhale as you rotate. The more you do this the better range of motion you get!
3. Hip Sway: Assesses your hip flexor and adductor mobility.
With your knees bent and lying on your back let both knees sway from left to right. Most of us have tight hips from sitting too much, so this one can be tricky. Reach your arms out to a T position to keep your upper body stationary. Can your knees go all the way across, towards the floor? It's easy to cheat so this is why a class or a coach can help support you! Keeping hips mobile is key to hip/joint longevity!
These are just a few examples of how to check in with your body. Incorporating a regular stretching program into your exercise routine reaps incredible rewards for your health and wellbeing! This October, I will be offering a stretching workshop for my martial arts community in Brampton. This is a passion of mine and I'm happy to coach groups or individuals on developing your own stretching routine! Sometimes the biggest obstacle is knowing where to start!
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