You should always find the time to stretch - and here is why

The word stretching conjures up many images: the runner before a marathon, the ballet dancer at the barre, the yoga practitioner or gymnast.

Friday, 11th September 2020, 12:25 pm
The leg-hug

What many people do not consider or give enough thought to is the reason we stretch – or, let’s face it, in many cases should stretch.

How often do you finish a run or work out and have to dash – dinner needs to go on, kids need to go to bed, got somebody to meet, or somebody to avoid? Some of us, especially, recently work out at home and still don’t find time to stretch..

The side stretch

Stretching after a workout is the obvious time to stretch – but its equally important if you spend a day on your feet or stuck in a static position. So what I am saying is nobody should get away without stretching. We all need to and here is why and how..

Firstly, and most importantly, everyone starts somewhere, and it is vital you remember it is not how far you move but how you move that matters. If you are stretching and attaining crazy positions but your posture is twisted, this is worse than not stretching.

There are fundamentally two basic types of stretch: developmental and maintenance (which we should all be performing regularly). Developmental stretches are to push flexibility to new levels, they are held for longer and progressively increased. Maintenance stretches are the ones we should all be performing, skeletally they are vital and not just before and after exercise but daily, so we preserve our mobility. Everyone surely wants to be able to pick things up and stand up straight well into old age.

These stretches also reduce our risk of injury and prevent or reduce our moans and groans as we get up or commence any kind of movement.

If you are one of many people to hit ‘an age’ and suddenly find that a grunt is needed to lift yourself out of the chair, or that you can no longer spring out of bed or pick something up without holding your back or hip, it’s time to start maintaining that frame and looking after those muscles. Here are some basic daily stretches we can do.

Remember it’s not how far you move that will come – it’s how you move that matters.

Do not bounce – if a muscle is tense, this will cause injury. And do not stretch if you are out of breath (muscles need oxygen). Always support your core and be aware of drawing your belly button to spine.

1/ Touch your toes: Stand with you feet hip-width apart and reach up so that your arms are parallel to your ears, take a deep breath in as you lift up then fold forwards. Make sure you make contact, so if you cannot touch the floor then touch your legs, this will protect your lower back.

2/ Child’s pose: Kneel on the floor and place your body along your legs. You can place cushions under your bum if you cannot sit back that far, reach the arms forwards and tuck the head down – a nice back stretch.

3/ Leg -hug: Lay on your back and hug your knees into your chest, then gently rock side to side – the spine is elongated and will get a nice gentle massage while it stretches – almost like gently ironing the muscles

4/ Supported pelvic stretch: Sit with your back to the wall and place the soles of the feet together. Keep the spine pressed to the wall and have the hands on the floor flat palm down. Allow the knees to gently drop out – as this becomes comfier you can move away from the wall.

5/ Side stretch: Stand with feet shoulder width apart and lift the arms in line with the shoulders. Lean into one side, keep the arms straight and make contact with the corresponding leg then change sides.

Core must be tight and if the upward movement is too intense walk your self back up. If you find this hard start stood against a wall; it can assist with balance and weight dispersal.