In my opinion stretching is one of the most underutilized forms of recovery. Most look for quick fixes or think they need a ton of different equipment to get the most out of their recovery routine. The reality is, all of those tools are great. In fact I love a lot of them! However, stretching for recovery is the simplest and easiest thing you can do at home or anywhere.
But let’s just say that you should look at your sleep immediately. Sleep quality is connected to your emotional stability and physical stability (weight management & recovery). Which are both connected to feeling better, find consistency in life and goal achievement.
Here are some of my non-stretching favs:
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STRETCHING FOR RECOVERY. SIMPLE, RIGHT?
Even though I say that this is simple I know that it is not that easy. Life gets in the way. We have dishes that need to be done, we have others to take care of, and sometimes at the end of the day we just want to relax and watch an episode of our favorite Netflix show. Who has twenty minutes to dedicate to stretching of all things?
On the other hand, not prioritizing this stretching routine can lead to bad results. Your back aches after a day of sitting at your computer all day. Shoulders are tense from all the before mentioned work, stress and lifestyle. Your hips are so extremely tight from sitting in an uncomfortable chair or in the car. But you can live with the discomfort, right? You are tough enough to deal with the daily aches and pains that come with tight joints. Right?!
NEW MENTALITY TOWARD STRETCHING FOR RECOVERY
You are not this indestructible superhero that is never going to need something as “dumb” as stretching. Our bodies are just that, OURS. Just as you would take your car in to get an oil change or make the repairs that need to be done in your home, your body needs regular and routine maintenance. And it does not have to take a hour of intense, total body stretching.
Yes, I would encourage you all to do a 10 to 20 minute total body stretch at the end of the day, but I know for many that is like asking you to lift a freight train. Not likely. And I understand!
Is that still too much time?
What if I told you it would only take a couple minutes?
Let’s focus on the root of the problem. For most of you it is probably one of the areas I listed before. You have a bad back, tense shoulders, or tight hips. Guess what? If you need to focus on only one of these areas, it will only take 3 to 4 minutes! I think we can all say that is reasonable!
We only will hold each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds each. Have people told you in the past that you need to hold a stretch for 3 minutes each? I hate to tell you, but they would be incorrect. The research behind holding a stretch any longer than 30 seconds is not supported. It does not add any benefits by holding it longer! Trust me and the science when I say that 20 to 30 seconds is more than sufficient to stretch your muscles.
Here are some easy, efficient stretches for you back, shoulders, and hips. Pick the area you need relief and get started. Remember stretching is best received by the body when it is warm. So doing these after a walk or cleaning up the house before bed would be an excellent idea.
LOW BACK STRETCHING FOR RECOVERY
*Disclaimer! If you have a diagnosed herniated disk or other spinal problems, that is much different from the muscles in your low back being tight! It is also wise to look to your hamstrings first. If they are tight, stretching them will also help your low back. More information on that HERE. Otherwise, here are my favorite stretches to target the low back.
Erector Spinae Twisting Stretch
This one is sure to feel amazing on low back. Holding on to a pole, chair, or anything you have at home, bend forward with your chest parallel to the ground. Rotate your hips to one side. The leg that is on the open side should have the straighter leg while the other one bends. You should feel the stretch on the side you are opening up to.
Seated OH Reach
This is one of my personal favorites for targeting my lower back. I always feel like it targets that exact spot I need. Seated with legs spread apart (only at your comfort level). Place both hands overhead. Reach toward one toe or however far you can reach. Focus on the top arm to get the most stretch through your lat and lower back.
Seated Crossover Stretch
Seated on a chair, sit with your legs about shoulder width apart and bent at 90 degrees. Take one leg and place the ankle of it on top of the other leg. Proceed to pull your knee toward your opposite shoulder. You should feel a stretch through the top of your glute to your lower back. If you need more of a stretch, walk your bottom foot outward a bit.
SHOULDER STRETCHING FOR RECOVERY
These stretches will open up your chest and allow your shoulders to open up in turn.
Lying Chest Stretch
Lying on a bench or foam roller (Foam Roller), be sure it is centered on your back and you have room to let your arms hang off over the side. Have your core tight and back pushed into the surface you are on (this can also be done on the floor). Let your arms fall out to the side, keeping your elbows bent at 90 degrees. You should feel a great stretch in your chest.
Wall Chest Stretch
Stand next to any wall with your side facing the wall. Place your hand closest to the wall on it with your elbow bent. Within your range of motion and comfort level slowly rotate away from the wall until you feel a light stretch in your shoulder/chest. Be sure not to try and push your range of motion past what you have.
Lying on your side with your knees bent and legs stacked on top of each other, start with both your arms out in front of you also stacked on each other. Open up with the top arm to reach toward the floor behind you. It is important to keep this arm in line with the other one. Again, be sure you do not push your range of motion past what you have.
HIP STRETCHING FOR RECOVERY
One of my absolute favorites for hips! Start by kneeling on the floor and then take your knees as wide as you can within your range of motion. Your feet (toes, mainly) should stay together as you do this. Reach out on the ground in front of you and allow your glutes to sink back into your heels.
Kneeling Foot-Elevated Stretch
Grab a chair or coffee table, whatever height is comfortable enough for you to take a half-kneeling position and have your back foot on it. If you need a cushion for that knee use a stability pad (Stability Pad) or a blanket! Push your hips forward without arching your back and squeeze your glutes to get a great hip flexor stretch!
Seated Hip Stretch
Sitting on a chair, bring on leg up over the other just as you did for the seated crossover stretch. Instead of hugging that knee to your chest, you are going to push that knee down away from your body for a stretch in your hip flexor. Be sure to keep a tight core and neutral spine to not lean forward into the stretch.
Hold each of these stretches for 20-30 seconds each! Each one takes 3 minutes or less. Combine them all together for a 10 minute end of the day stretching routine! I know these stretches help me feel better, especially for these problem areas that effect so many of us. Be sure to try them out for yourself!
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