Doesn’t it feel wonderful to stretch? Whether you do it upon awakening or after a hard day at work, full body stretches can help you relieve the tension built up in your body.
A full body stretch also soothes your muscles and can make your joints more flexible. Consider the following example.
Have you ever watched your beloved pets enjoy a healthy stretch after a nap? They instinctively know that’s what their body needs after being in one position for a while.
According to Dr. David Nolan in an article published by Harvard Medical School, stretching helps maintain your mobility and independence.
Perhaps you’ve seen athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and dancers do a series of whole-body stretches before their activities begin. These warmup exercises help prepare your muscles and joints to perform at optimal levels. Without this preparation, a sudden movement or jolt could cause severe injuries to your body.
Now, consider the condition of your body when you’ve been in one position for hours, such as sleeping or sitting in an office chair. Most of your muscles are contracted, and your joints haven’t moved a lot. When you stretch in the mornings or after driving or sitting for extended periods, it gives your body a jumpstart to move safely.
Adding Stretches to Your Daily Routine
Very few people have the dubious privilege of lying on the sofa and eating chocolate all day. Your life is filled to the max as you take care of your personal and professional duties. Even when you try to take a breather finally, you’re probably busy checking emails and social media.
Although you may not have much free time, you make it because keeping your body fit is a priority. It’s also essential that you include entire body stretches in your exercise routine. An article published by the Mayo Clinic recommends that you try to stretch at least three times a week.
Three Positive Benefits of Stretching
You already know how pleasant a morning stretch is. Not only does full-body stretching ease your muscles, tendons, and joints, but you’ll see a difference in how you feel. Here are some of the benefits you can get from stretching.
As you age, it’s common to lose a little cartilage in your joints, and you’re a little less limber. You may also notice that your joints have less range of motion than in the past. Fortunately, stretching may minimize joint stiffness and help you maintain a healthy range of motion.
2. Full Body Stretches May Prevent Injury
Preparation is the key to any physical activity, be it for work or pleasure. Full body stretching provides that crucial warm-up your body needs to prevent strains, sprains, and other injuries. It’s also important to stretch the right ways not to get hurt in that process.
3. May Benefit Your Mental Health
Who would have guessed that giving your body a comforting stretch would also boost your mental health? Correct stretching involves mindful breathing, which can lower your anxiety and help you to relax.
An article published by Healthy Women cites Jamie Longval, a certified strengthening and conditioning specialist. Longval explains that stretching can help lengthen your muscles, which may alleviate stress. The less stress you have, the less tension you may carry in your body and mind.
Ten Full Body Stretches to Try
Are you ready to relieve some tension in your muscles and joints? Stretching is a gentle way to do it. Talk to your healthcare provider or a certified fitness instructor about adding these ten full body stretches to your exercise routine.
BEFORE YOU START: Everyone’s body is different, and not every stretch is right for you. If you feel any pain when doing these or other stretching exercises, stop immediately. This is especially important if you have issues with your back, neck, or other joints and muscles.
1. Shoulders & Chest Stretch
- As you stand or sit in a comfortable position, bring your hands together and interlace your fingers loosely. Try to keep your back and arms straight as possible.
- Now, gently bring your hands above your head as high as you comfortably can while inhaling through your nose. You’ll notice the stretch in your chest and shoulder. Hold this position for fifteen to twenty seconds.
- Exhale through your mouth as you bring your hands and arms back to the starting position. Your goal for this stretch is two to three repetitions.
2. Quad Stretch
- If you need something to help, you balance, hold onto a wall or the back of a sturdy chair.
- Stand in a comfortable position and bend your right knee until your foot is behind you. Clutch your foot and gently pull it toward your behind while your right knee is pointing down straight to the floor. Inhale and hold your breath between ten and fifteen seconds.
- Exhale through your mouth as you return to the starting position. Switch and repeat steps for your left leg. Do two or three repetitions per side.
3. Hamstring Stretch
- Bring your right foot in front of you by tipping from your hips and keeping your back flat as possible.
- Gently lower yourself until the back of your right leg feels the stretch. Give yourself support by placing your hands on your upper thighs. Inhale and hold for fifteen to thirty seconds.
- Exhale smoothly and return to the starting position. Switch to your left foot and repeat the steps. Repeat two or three times for each side.
4. Biceps Stretch
- Sit comfortably and bring both arms out to your sides and slightly behind you. Make a fist with your thumbs pointing toward the ceiling.
- Now, use your biceps to rotate your thumbs down until the point in front of you. Inhale and hold your breath for twenty to thirty seconds, then exhale as you bring your thumbs back to start. Repeat this stretch two to five times.
5. Upper Back Stretch
- Stand comfortably and bring your hands together until they clasp straight in front of you. If you have stability issues, you can do this from your knees and place your elbows on a table to help you remain balanced.
- As you inhale through your nostrils, gently press your arms away from your body and arch your upper back. You should feel your abs contracting, too.
- Hold your breath for ten to fifteen seconds and exhale as you come back into the starting position. Try to repeat this stretch two or three times.
6. Shoulder Stretch
- Stand comfortably and bring your left arm across your chest while cupping your left elbow with your right hand.
- Now, inhale and gently pull on your left elbow to stretch your arm and shoulder. Just pull until you feel a comfortable stretch, not pain.
- Hold the position for twenty seconds, then exhale while returning to the starting position. Switch sides and do the same steps for your right arms. Strive for two or three repetitions on each side.
7. Triceps Stretch
- Stand or sit comfortably while keeping your back straight as possible. As you inhale, raise your left elbow until it’s right behind your head and your forearm is against your back.
- Use your left hand to gently pull your bent right elbow just close enough until you feel your triceps stretching.
- Hold for at least fifteen seconds and return to the starting position while exhaling. Switch to your right arm and repeat the steps. Your goal is two to three repetitions on each side.
8. Side Stretch
- You can do this full body stretch while standing or sitting.
- Bring your arms straight over your head and clasp your hands so your palms are facing upwards.
- Inhale as you stretch your arms up and bend them toward the right until you feel a gentle stretch in your left side. Hold the position for ten to fifteen seconds.
- Exhale and come back to the first position. Now, repeat the steps and lean toward the left. Your goal is one to three repetitions per side.
9. Hip Stretch
- Lie comfortably on your back. Bend both your knees until your feet are flat on the mat and your hands naturally at both sides.
- First, pull your right knee as close to your chest as you comfortably can. You’ll feel a gentle stretch in your right hip. Your calves should be crossing over your body.
- Inhale and pull your left knee in the same position toward your chest. You should feel the shins or ankles of both legs touching.
- Wrap your hands around your knees and gently pull them closer to your body without experiencing pain. Hold this position for ten to fifteen seconds. Exhale and repeat two or three times.
10. Inner Thigh Stretch
- Sit comfortably on your mat with your back as straight as possible.
- Bend your knees until they point out to the left and the right.
- Bring your feet in until your soles are touching each other or as close as you can get.
- Now, lean forward a bit and grab both feet with your hands. Use your elbows to push down on your knees gently. You will notice a stretch in both right and left hips.
- Try to hold the position for ten to fifteen breaths. Try to do between one and three repetitions.
Final Thoughts on Full Body Stretches
Take a cue from athletes and other fitness buffs and give your body a good stretch each day. It’s easy to do and may help keep your muscles and joints strong and more flexible. Using full body stretches can keep you healthy and feeling great.