Transformed Ostrich

When you just wish you could pull your OWN head out of the sand…

Stretching for real world benefits

It’s pretty common to see runners stretching before and after their run, and most people know the basic stretches and the obvious benefits in this case: loosen the muscles up pre-run, release lactic acid post-run, avoid injuries, and feel not-so-sore the next day. Even with anaerobic exercise such as strength training with heavy weights and low reps, or building size with decent weight and more reps, it is very important to stretch after each exercise to again release the lactic acid and enhance the gain from the workout. In general, going to the gym for a workout, and NOT stretching is just ripping yourself off. If you get bored with what seems like relaxing when you’re stretching, and you’d rather be hitting that next set, look at Muscle and Fitness’ article which teaches “Stretch and Fire” method involving flexing one side while stretching the other.

Stretching daily, not just around workouts

But what about those days when you’re not working out, or when you’re on vacation and forgot to book a hotel with a gym, or you’re just plain not going to the gym or running?

Regardless of what else you’re doing in your life, how busy you are, or what your financial or geographical challenges are, you can always stretch, and it will always improve your life; really! Some of the benefits of simple stretching by itself are pain relief, increased energy, better circulation, proper posture, and overall feeling of well-being! (ref Heart of Healing article)

A Day of Stretching

In the morning, take a couple minutes to gather your thoughts, look around your house or apartment and appreciate what you have. Relax into a simple forward bend for 10-15 seconds, then stand up and lean to one side with the opposite arm stretched overhead, stand up again and touch the sky with both hands and slowly pull them down while trying to touch your shoulder blades together in the back. Now look around again, pick up that piece of fruit and continue on with your day!

At lunch, make sure to eat away from your desk, sit with your back straight, and take a couple deep breaths to wash away the morning stresses and prepare to enjoy your food. While waiting for the microwave to finish, lean down to reach for your toes, let your arms swing freely and feel your spine decompress a bit. Stand up and let your head slowly roll side to side, and front to back.

In the afternoon, before running to your car to sit down for another 20-200 minutes of driving, take a couple minutes (literally a couple minutes; you will not lose your place in rush hour, it’ll be there when you get there) to again wash away the stresses of the day with some skyward looking. Look up and raise your hands above your head, lean side to side and backwards. Feel the tension fly out of your palms. Do a couple lunges or squats on the spot, breath deeply a few times at the end and straighten your back, notice how tall you are and rotate your upper body side to side a couple times. Shrug and/or roll your shoulders a few times and off you go!

Before going to bed at night, do any of the above stretches, add some new ones, stand on your tippy toes a couple times, do the classic yaaaaawn by reaching your hands up and out as far as they’ll go, and lay down to fall into a rejuvinating sleep. These couple minutes before closing your eyes at night will make a tremendous difference in your sleep.

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