Ever notice how good you feel for a second or two after a good stretch in the morning? There’s good reason ― combining mindful stretches with deep breathing can actually help to reduce stress levels.
Stretching has other benefits, too, including better circulation, less joint pain and improved flexibility.
You can stretch anywhere you like. Some people enjoy stretching in the great outdoors, at the beach or a local park, some prefer the privacy of home, while watching TV or accompanied by soothing music.
Whatever your preference, stretching for 15 to 20 minutes, three times a week, is an ideal elixir for the stresses we suffer every day in this hectic modern world.
Here’s a simple stretching routine to get you started. First, some tips:
- Always ease into a stretch. Use slow, controlled movements, and never bounce or push your body into position.
- Hold each stretch for 30 seconds. It takes time to safely lengthen muscle tissue.
- Remember to breathe! Concentrate on feeding oxygen to your muscles.
- Don’t overdo it. You should feel tension while you’re stretching, but not pain.
Now the routine:
- Standing about 15 inches from a wall, place the backs of your forearms against the wall, bend one knee toward the wall and move the other foot back about a foot, then slowly lean forward. You should feel the muscles of your straight leg gently stretch. Hold for 10 seconds, then switch legs. Repeat 2 times for each leg.
- Using a sturdy chair or a wall for balance and support, bend your left knee slightly, then lift your right foot up toward your buttocks. Reach back with your right hand and grasp your right foot. Pull gently. Hold for 5 seconds, release, and switch to the left side. Repeat 2 times for each leg.
- Lie flat on a mat or padded surface. Keeping your legs together, slowly raise your knees and bring them close to your chest. Reach both arms behind your legs and grip tight. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 2 more times.
- Kneel down on a mat or padded surface. Keep your buttocks close over your heels. Start with your hands on your knees and slowly “walk” your hands forward until your arms are fully extended. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 3 more times.