How best to start the day is a consideration many of us have. But if stretching and mobilizing before you get started isn’t something you’ve given a thought to, it might be time to start.  

Why Is Stretching Important?

            Stretching regularly helps to protect your mobility and your independence as you age. It keeps muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and physical therapist David Nolan says that stretching is something that must happen regularly and should be a daily practice.

            For those of us who can’t find time to add a stretching routine into our daily lives we’re running the risk of developing short, tight muscles that can lead to joint pain, strains, and muscle damage.

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            Fortunately, we don’t have to stretch every single muscle in the body. With how quickly you can get in some stretching, and the amount of difference it can make, there’s really no excuse to not be doing these stretches daily.

*Check with your healthcare professional before implementing a change to your active routine. Those with chronic conditions like Parkinson’s and Arthritis should check with their doctor if stretching is beneficial for them. * 

The 11-Minute Stretch Routine:

 

Calf Stretch

1.     Start with your legs hip-width apart.

2. Step back with your left leg and straighten it behind you with your heels on the ground.

3.    Use the chair for balance and push your hips forward until you feel a stretch in your calf.

4.    Hold for 1-minute.

5.    Switch sides and repeat.

 

 

 

 

  

 

Hip-Flexor Stretch

1.    Start with your feet hip-width apart.

2.   Put your hands on the front leg and step back to kneel down.

3.   Keep your torso tall and push your front knee forwards until you feel a stretch in your hip-flexor.

4.   Hold for 1-minute

5.   Switch sides and repeat.

 

 

 

 

 

Hamstring Stretch

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This stretch can be done either sitting down or standing up, depending on which is more comfortable for you.

1.    Start with your feet hip-width apart.

2.   Rest your hands on your thighs or reach towards your toes.

3.   Keeping your back straight lean forward until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings.

4.   Hold for 1-minute.

 

 

 

 

 

Seated Twist

Chair Version:

1.    Sitting on the chair, keep your lower body facing forwards.

2.   Reach around and use the chair back to rotate your torso until you feel a stretch in your back.

3.   Hold for 1-minute.

4.   Switch sides and repeat.

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Ground Version:

1.    Start out seated on the ground with your legs in front of you.

2.   Lift your right leg over the left and place your right foot by your left knee.

3.   Place your right hand behind you, and your left hand on your right thigh.

4.   Twist until you feel a stretch in your back.

5.   Hold for 1-minute.

6.   Switch sides and repeat.

 

 

Side Stretch

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1.    Starting out sitting on a chair.

2.   Reach up with both arms and put your left one behind your head.

3.   Reach across and grab your left elbow with your right hand.

4.   Lean over to your right side until you feel a stretch down your left side.

5.   Hold for 1-minute.

6.   Switch sides and repeat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quadriceps Stretch

1.    Start off standing with your legs hip-width apart.

2.   Hold onto a chair for balance.

3.   Lift your left leg up and grab your ankle with your hand.

4.   Straighten up until you feel a stretch in your quadriceps.

5.   Hold for 1-minute.

6.   Switch sides and repeat.

 

These stretches are simple, quick, and a great place to start, regardless of what your long-term goals are. After doing them for a little while, they’ll become easier and you’ll be able to push into them a little bit more. You may eventually want to move to a weekly yoga class. These classes are much more involved stretching periods that range from 20 to 120 minutes, and involve breath control, meditation, and are great for both your mobility and strength.

Whatever you decide to do, keep in mind that stretching is beneficial to both your mobility and your long-term independence; and can complement any activity you decide to take part in. Despite this, it’s always best to consult your healthcare professional before making a change to your active lifestyle.

 

 

 

 

 

References:

1.      Human Fit Project. 7 Early-Morning Stretches to Build a Better Body. Men’s Journal. https://www.mensjournal.com/health-fitness/7-top-early-morning-stretches-build-better-body/

Published 2019. Accessed June 26, 2019.

 

2.     Natasha Freutel. The 5-Minute Daily Stretching Routine. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/daily-stretching-routine

Published July 2016. Accessed June 26, 2019.

 

3.     Harvard Health Publishing. The Importance of Stretching. Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-importance-of-stretching

Published September 2013. Accessed June 27, 2019.

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