When we feel stressed, our muscles tend to up and relax becomes difficult. One way to combat muscle tension and become more relaxed is by stretching. Stretching exercises loosen up stiff, tense muscles and help get the knots out of muscles. The beauty of stretching is that you do not need equipment or a large space.
A good stretching routine is one that can be done in five minutes regularly once or twice a day. While a comprehensive routine may cover most parts of your body a basic stretch routine should include at minimum your arms, legs, and back. Here are some basic stretches to try:
Arm Stretch – Raise your arms above your head, fingers interlaced, palms facing up. Push up as far as you can. Hold for 15 seconds. Relax. Repeat 3 times.
Back Stretch 1 – Lying on the floor, pull your knees into your chest and clasp your hands under your knees. Gently press your hips to the floor. Hold for 15 seconds. Relax. Repeat 3 times.
Back Stretch 2 – Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Keeping your back flat on the floor, rotate your hips to the left, lowering your legs down to the floor until a gentle stretch is felt. Hold for 15 seconds. Return to the starting position and repeat on other side
Leg Stretch 1 Ham String: Sit down with your legs straight out in front of you. Reach forward with your hands as far as is comfortable (touch your toes if you can) and hold the stretch for 15 seconds.
Leg Stretch 2 Quad: Do this stretch standing up, using a chair or the wall for balance. Lift one leg behind you and grip it with your hand. Pull the leg up toward your butt, keeping your knees even with each other and hold for 15 seconds. Repeat for each leg.
Leg Stretch 3 Calf: Put your arms on a wall like you're about to get frisked. Place one leg forward and the other leg back. Shift your weight to the back leg and press against the wall until you feel the stretch in your calf and hold for 15 seconds. Switch legs and stretch again.
We all lead busy lives and may find it difficult to make time for stretching so it is important to stick with a routine that does not take a long time to do. By stretching regularly, you'll increase the flow of blood and nutrients to the cells of your body. It reduces mental and physical stress, tension and anxiety, promotes good sleep, lowers blood pressure and slows down your heart rate. When you do manage to have a little bit of time for yourself, try some stretching!
NOTE – If you have a medical condition, please check with your doctor before doing any type of exercise.