All of the team activities I participated in, my coaches would always emphasize the importance of stretching before and after physical activity. Even on the days of rest, it was always good to stretch.
Nowadays, I'll stretch occasionally, but not nearly as much or for as long as I should be. For the past few weeks, I have been trying to rethink my morning routines. Instead of waking up at the last minute and having to jump out of bed in a rush and quickly get going in the mornings, I'm trying to remember to set my alarm about 20 minutes earlier than normal to slowly wake up. Did you know stretching warms up your joints and increases your blood flow while simultaneously awakening your mind?
Stretching in and of itself can actually be a form of exercise. So instead of hitting the snooze button in the morning, take the extra 10-20 minutes to stretch and get the juices going and easy away any stress or tension from the previous day's activity or a funky sleeping position.
You can keep your morning stretches simple without even leaving the bed! Try these 5 simple stretches tomorrow morning:
- Sitting indian style, cross your fingers and raise your arms above your head, palms facing the ceiling. Breath in and out for 10 seconds.
- Remain in the indian style, and slowly roll your neck from side to side- loosening the tension and muscles in your neck and shoulders.
- While lying on your back, start with your right arm extended out to the side, palm down and bring your right leg across your body to stretch your lower back and gluteous maximus. Hold for 10-20 seconds and rotate, stretching your left side.
- Most people are used to stretching their quads while standing up, by standing on one leg and bending your opposite leg (knee facing the ground) while holding onto your foot/ankle behind your back, but it's also something you can do while lying down on your side. To really maximize your quad stretch, squeeze your glut max while engaged in the stretch. Since quads are one of the most overworked muscles in the body, make sure to stretch them every day.
- I love a good hamstring stretch! Make sure that when you do this stretch your pelvis is square (keep your hips centered and flat). Think of this stretch as a way to wake up your legs. Circle your ankles a few times in each direction, too to help with circulation, and strengthening.