Fitness gurus time and again remind us to stretch without fail. If you’re like us, you might tend to neglect that advice as well. What is the importance of having a full body stretching routine? Is it as necessary as they make it out to be? Or is it like any other exercise routine? We’re here to tell you that it is extremely essential and greatly beneficial. It is not another gimmick; it will enhance your health and fitness in a way you didn’t think was possible. If you want to know more for yourself and want to read about how you can incorporate full body stretches into your routine, then you have come to the right place.
Do you actually need to stretch and why?
There are varied benefits that you can accrue from periodic stretching. It is not just for a boost in flexibility, but also helps in improving your posture, acts as a stress buster and can be a great addition to your morning relaxation routine. Here are the most common benefits of stretching:
- As we’ve mentioned, there are numerous benefits to stretching. But the best one has to be that it increases your flexibility. This is also beneficial in your fitness journey as it can elevate your ability to exercise. In addition to that, you will be at increased ease with your body while performing your daily activities. You will not tire out as fast despite your naturally ageing body.
- Along the same lines, it increases your range of joint movement, i.e., you can move more freely and swiftly. If done regularly, stretching can help facilitate an increase in the range of your motion.
- If you incorporate your full body stretching exercises before you work out, studies show that it prepares the muscles for any kind of exercise. This applies to any other athletic event as well – races, marathon, jumping, cycling. If you stretch properly before any of these, your muscles will perform better.
- Another great reason to have a daily full body stretching routine is that it increases your blood flow by improving your circulation. This is important because your recovery time will reduce. By this, your muscles will not be as sore as they are without a stretching routine.
- An imbalance in muscles is very regular and mainstream. This causes us to adopt a bad posture. Stretching strengthens muscles and causes muscles to align perfectly. This will eventually cause you to improve your posture.
- Whatever your take on stretching is, you cannot deny that it is a great stress buster. It will relax any tense muscle. Generally, muscles will tighten up because of physical or mental stress. A proper stretch every day will ensure that your muscles loosen up especially in those tense areas like the back, neck, etc.
- Full body stretches can easily act as an alternative to mindfulness activities like meditation. You can calm and clear your mind while practising your stretches. It is like giving yourself a mental break.
Full Body Stretches
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to spend hours on end to perfect your stretch routine. Here are some full body stretching exercises for flexibility and other benefits that will leave you feeling very relaxed. They are simple and easy. You can do these exercises at any time of the day, either before or after a workout, even while watching television. The aim is to target all the important muscle groups in the body to gain maximum results.
Before starting the stretching, just warm up with a light jog in place or walk around for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Quad Stretch: Stand straight with your knees close to each other. Take one of your feet and pull it up to your butt. Hold your bent leg for about half a minute, and then let go. Repeat the same with your other leg. Do this at least 4 times on each leg.
- Hamstring Stretch: Standing straight again, push your left leg forward. You can either push it straight on the ground or on an elevated surface for a deeper stretch. Keep increasing the angle of the push till you feel your hamstrings stretching. Hold that for about 20 seconds. Then repeat the same with your right leg. Do this at least 4 times as well.
- Chest Stretch: Interlock both your palms at your back, near your butt. Slowly raise your locked hands upwards only till you feel your chest stretching. Don’t overly stress your chest or your shoulder. Stay comfortable but continue flexing for 30 seconds. Repeat the stretch anywhere between 1 – 3 times.
- Biceps stretch: Sit on a stool or a chair without any back support but with your back straight. Lift your arms at your sides with your thumb out and facing upwards. Now slowly rotate your hands so your thumbs are up, down, and back with each move. Continue doing this till you feel your biceps relax. Repeat it at least 3 times to get maximum benefit.
- Shoulder Stretch: This is by far the simplest and most relaxing stretch out of the lot. Stand straight and raise your left arm parallel to your body, across your chest. Then, curl your right hand around the elbow of your right arm and pull slowly till you feel the stretch. Keep doing it till you feel a sense of relaxation in your shoulders. Let go and alternate the hands. Repeat this process 3 times on each hand.
- Side stretch: Stand with your legs apart. Raise your hands to the ceiling and bend to one side till you feel the entirety of your side torso stretch properly. Then come back up and do it on the other side as well. Do this 5 to 6 times on each side.
Once you go through all these stretches, your body will be relaxed and ready for your workout routine. These full body stretches do not have to be a primer to exercises and can be done just by themselves. It is always recommended to perfect your full body stretching routine. As we have elucidated above, you can only benefit from it.