Sunday, September 2, 2012

My Daily Stretch

How do you feel about stretching? Some people love it. Some people hate it. As you can guess from the title of this post, I belong to the first group...the ones who can't go a day without it.  I mainly got into stretching because I used to dance when I was younger and at the beginning of every dance class we stretched. When I stopped dancing and discovered yoga and pilates, I was introduced to all kinds of new stretches, and so the stretching continued.

With stretching, I can credit many things like my flexibility, a decrease in muscle tightness and soreness, less joint pain and fatigue as well as an improvement in my overall health. In fact, it makes me feel so good that I truly believe I get less ailments and illnesses...thus the saying I coined of how "a stretch a day keeps the doctor away."

I'm sure that seems a bit extreme to think that something as simple as stretching once a day would have such a strong effect on our general health, but I really think it does. Over the past few years I've have random muscles or joints start to hurt, and instead of heading straight to the doctor or popping some meds, I doing a little stretching and they goes away. Usually not instantly, but after a day or two...they're gone.  Talk about being green in how you don't have to spend any green and you can keep your body green (buh-bye chemicals)!

 Aside from the health benefits I've listed, other benefits that come from stretching as cited by the Mayo Clinic include:
  1. Increased flexibility and joint range of motion
  2. Improved circulation
  3. Better posture
  4. Stress relief
  5. Better coordination
  6. Decreased risk of injury
Over the years, I've created my own stretching routine that I do on a daily basis. I do it when I wake up, before I go to bed, and right after a workout. It combines moves from yoga, pilates, dance, and even a few that I just made up. ( :

Here's a video of "My Daily Stretch"...

Want more of a play-by-play? Here's pictures of each of the stretches, as well as a description of the movement involved in the stretch.
1. Start in a down dog position.
2. Bring one foot forward into a lunging position, from there
your drop your elbows down and go deeper into the pose. 
3. Come back up. Reach back and grab your opposite foot.
4. Stand back up and with your leg still forward, straighten
it and attempt to bring your head to your knee or as
Bethenney Frankel says, "Bring your boob to your knee".
Lift your toes for a deeper stretch.

Now repeat on the other side.

5. Now come down into a straddle, however wide that may be.
Stretch your arm over to one side and then to the other.
6. Bend forward and chill...for as long as you like.
7. Come back up and twist to a forward-facing straddle. Twist
your body across your leg, feeling the stretch and hopefully
a few "pops" in your back.
8. Fold your front foot in and bend over it...kind of like
pigeon pose from yoga.
9. Now switch and be sure to get a good twist on the other side!
10. Come back to the middle and bring your feet together
in a "butterfly-like" stretch, come forward if you can.
11. To wrap up, get on your hands and knees. To form the
"cow pose" look up, drop your belly down, and feel the
stretch in your lower back.
12. Now switch to "cat pose" by lifting up your belly and looking
down at the ground.

13. Finish back in down dog, or add some more stretches
on if you would like!

Disclaimer, as I mentioned in the video, I am not a personal trainer or a doctor. So if you think this stretch will be too much for you, just ease into it. My rule is if a stretch hurts, don't do it. Granted a little pull/pressure is a good thing, but if you are in pain...abandon the stretch and try a more gentle variation.  Feel free to use my stretching routine as a starting base to develop the "daily stretch" that works best for you and your body!

How often do you stretch? Do you have a special routine you do?  Do you have a favorite stretching book, website, or DVD? Share below!

Happy Stretching!

Recently this post was linked up to Frugally Sustainable as part of the "Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways Blog Hop." So check it out and find more ways you can green your plate, your body, and your home!

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