Stretching – It does a Body – and a Mind – Good

Did you know stretching is just as important for your mind as it is for your body?

Stretching can provide a mental break, calm the mind, and give your body a chance to recharge.  If you need a longer tension release, consider joining a yoga or pilates class, where you’ll spend an hour physically and mentally releasing tension.

Stretching for your physical body helps flexibility; lengthens tight muscles; prepares muscles for work to decrease potential of injury; and reduced muscle soreness from the increased blood and nutrient supply.

Stretching is more than just touching your toes and stretching your hamstrings.  We’re talking about stretching your whole body.  Here are some tips on what body parts to stretch and why:

Feet
You probably never thought about stretching your feet, but they should be a vital part of your warmup process.  The muscles in the bottom of your feet connect to the muscles in your hamstrings and calves.   Any tightness in your feet can lead to poor anklet mobility or inflexibility in your legs.

Ankles
Your ankles are key to any type of lower body exercise you perform.  If they’re not strong, your bound to risk injury.

Quadriceps
A good quad stretch involves both the knee and the hip at the same time.  Since squats and lunges are putting all those joints (and muscle) into play, you need to stretch them all before your workout to get them ready for their job to avoid injury.

Chest
The chest is usually over-worked and under-treated.  Be sure to loosen the muscles by opening the chest and stretching it out.

Calves
Your calves are your body’s shock absorbers – if they are tight, you’re going to end up with knee pain.  Be sure to stretch out both calves before you workout to keep your joints injury-free.

Hamstring
Although it’s the biggest muscle, it can still get injured.  Instead of touching your toes to stretch it out, bring your legs up to you to stretch out the hamstring.  This will stretch out the entire (large) hamstring muscle at once.

Neck/Shoulders
Again, not something you think you should stretch, but in today’s world, the tension in your neck is elevated with the use of electronics and it’s carried into your mid and upper back.   A cat stretch and overhead wall or doorway stretch will loosen everything from your back to the base of your skull.

Glutes
Did you know your glutes are the most powerful muscles in your body?  But they get mistreated by being sat on all the time and become tight and inflexible, which can lead to back and leg pain.  Stretching your glutes by doing a pigeon stretch will help.

Hips
When you have tight hip adductors – the muscles you use to bring and hold your legs together – you feel it in your groin.  Without stretching your hip adductors, your entire core is compromised.

Your hip flexors are also important.  They become tight from sitting at a desk all day being kept at a 90-degree angle rather at their full 180-degree angle.  This shortens the length of your hip flexors and can cause destruction of not only your hips, but your thighs and lower back as well.  Doing simple hip flexor stretches are important on a daily basis.

A small stretch session each day will make a huge difference for your body and mind in the long run!

8 thoughts on “Stretching – It does a Body – and a Mind – Good

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