How To Incorporate Stretching Into Your Daily Routine
Written By: Suzanne Kvilhaug
What is it with stretching? Nobody wants to take the time to do it but once they do it they’re glad they did. You barely move the entire time so it’s not like it’s hard to do either. And even if you can’t list off reasons why it’s good for you, you likely can feel that it is. So “just do it already”, right?! I guess it’s one of those simple things that we love to complicate.
If you’re part of the “I can’t touch my toes or even come close to them so how the heck are the rest of you doing this” club like I am, then stretching may ease your tin man troubles. Stretching can help improve flexibility, which can improve your performance in physical activities and decrease your risk of injuries by helping your joints move through their full range of motion.
Research shows that flexibility is a “use it or lose it” type of thing. When you don’t stretch, you keep your muscles in a chronically shortened state. So if that’s enough inspiration to get you to commit to stretching more, here are some ideas on when to find time in your day to add this not pesky yet sort of pesky activity in.
Combine stretching with meditation
If you have a meditation practice or want to create one, think about stretching while meditating-- a double whammy for your well-being. Killing two birds with one stone thinking here. Both stretching and meditation have positive effects on the mind and body so carving out time for yourself to do it means you’ll feel calmer, recharged and relaxed. It makes perfect sense to ease your tension x2. Even those who are time-constrained can shoot for 5-10 minutes a day to work on loosening muscles and lowering stress levels.
Take classes that have elements of stretching
Stretching studios are now popping up so if you have one in your area your dreams of being loose as a goose are that much more plausible. If there aren’t any stretching studios located near you, take classes and do workouts that have an element of stretching to it. Classes like yoga, pilates and barre incorporate stretching during so you don’t have to be so diligent about doing it on your own time.
Get in the habit of doing it immediately right after your workout
When the workout is done it’s like ok now I’m done, it’s a wrap. Mentally and physically it’s over and you’re on to the next thing but...“not so fast!” Stretching while the muscles are already loose from a workout will help you recover faster and prevent injuries. Once you get in the habit of doing it, it’ll become automatic. One way to stick with it is to be mindful and take note of how you feel the next day when you do stretch vs. when you don’t stretch. If you feel that much better or notice a positive difference, you’ll be apt to keep stretching after workouts.
Do it when you wake up or right before bed
Not sure on the science behind this one but adding things to your routine right when you wake up or right before you go to sleep seem to have a tendency to stick, don’t they?! Stretching in the morning can feel good and the added bonus is that it can help to wake you up. “No I don’t need coffee, I just need to do a few downward dogs and some lunges.” Stretching at night may even help you sleep better. Sounds like nothing to lose and everything to gain with this strategy. So take your pick or better yet, do it in the morning and at night... ahhh, overachieving never felt so good.
Stretch while you watch TV
It hit me like a ton of bricks once, and yeah you can call me Einstein for this multitasking suggestion. I was in a phase of doing heavy workouts and it was starting to get difficult keeping up with it because of how tight my muscles were. Mentally, I was spent and that put stretching on the back burner, a back burner that never got turned on. So it clicked one day that I could stretch while watching TV...and everyone say duh all at once. Sometimes becoming aware of something is all it takes to get it done. So now when I’m watching TV, talking on the phone or doing something along those lines, if my body feels tight I’ll stretch. Like I said, Einstein.