Stretching workout routines: 10 unbelievable stretches on the finish of a protracted day


If a full day of work, errands, training, and countless other chores generally have you feeling stiff and achy, consider trying these soothing stretching exercises. Whether it’s tightness in the feet, tightness in the lower back or hips, or just a general feeling of stiffness, stretching the hip flexors, shoulders, neck and hips can be the perfect way to unwind.

Stretching is one of the best (and most often overlooked) practices for your body because it can help improve flexibility, a essential component of physical form. Flexibility can help increase your range of motion, improve your posture, reduce your risk of injury, and yes, it can be mentally and physically relaxing.

Whether you’re stretching for better flexibility or just to relieve general tension throughout your body, you don’t need to get into an (awkward) position and hold it for several minutes.

« I always recommend holding stretches for a few seconds at a time and doing them as one set of reps rather than one long hold, » says Jeff Brannigan, MS, program director at Stretch*da stretching studio in New York.

Muscles work in pairs throughout your body. One muscle (called the agonist) contracts to facilitate a movement while the opposite muscle (called the antagonist) relaxes and allows that movement to occur, Brannigan explains. This concept is called reciprocal inhibition. « By applying this principle to active stretching, you can lengthen the muscle in a very safe and natural way, » says Brannigan.

Static stretches — standing still in a single pose while taking deep breaths — can be enjoyable for some, but for others it can be boring or even risky, especially if a person is forcing the stretch. And a sharp or uncomfortable feeling is the exact opposite of what we want when it comes to soothing stretching exercises. Conclusion: If you prefer to move around a bit while you stretch, don’t feel the need to stand still for more than a few seconds at a time.

Likewise, there isn’t necessarily one right way to breathe while stretching either.

« Play with [breathing through your] nose or mouth. See what suits you best. What will help slow the heart rate is [breathing] through the nose, through the mouth, but do what feels best to you,” says Jo Murdock, yoga teacher, dancer and fitness instructor certified 200 hours EYT and 300 hours. Murdock adds that while you don’t have to follow a strict breathing pattern, inhaling and exhaling comfortably should be a priority when stretching. You may find that you can relax deeper into a stretch after an exhale, but again, it’s important not to force yourself.

And while we hate to add another item to your already busy schedule, it’s best if you can take some time to stretch your lower and upper body each day.

« Stretching should be as common as brushing your teeth, » says Murdock. « Even if it’s five or 10 minutes a day. » Murdock jokes that if you « don’t use it, you lose it, » and that cliché is absolutely true when it comes to flexibility and muscle relaxation. So whether you’re using them as post-workout stretches or taking time out at the end of a long day, know that a simple stretching habit can be a great self-care practice.

Of course, as with any exercise, check with your doctor first (especially if you have chronic pain or a history of specific injuries), and always stop if you experience sharp pain. With that in mind, here are some suggested stretches by Murdock and Brannigan that are almost guaranteed to help you have a calm and relaxed evening.

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