You know stretching important. It gives you the muscle flexibility to perform your daily activities with ease, such as getting out of bed, lifting your child, doing yard work or house cleaning. It also reduces stress, improves posture and decreases injuries. And seeing as flexibility deteriorates with age, it’s important to keep working at it.
The good news is that stretching is one of the most rewarding activities because you can see results fairly quickly. If at the start you could only bend as far down as your knees, by the end of the first week you might see your fingers reaching an inch or two lower. Eventually you will be showing everyone how comfortably you can touch your toes, or clasp your hands behind your back, or even do the splits!
There’s no trick to it. The key is to stretch often. That’s it.
- Understand how to safely perform the stretches for each muscle group. Above is an image you can use to get started. We encourage you to also look for videos like this one. If time is an issue, try picking one or a few muscle groups that you would like to work on and then alternate them throughout the weeks or months.
- Stretch to just before the point of discomfort. If you feel pain stop the stretch.
- The feeling of tightness should diminish as you hold the stretch.
- Breathe! Do not hold your breath.
- Hold each stretch for 10-30 seconds.
- Stretching later in the day is better because your body will already be ‘warmed up’ from other activities.
- Practice 4 to 7 days a week, as recommended by Canada’s Physical Activity Guide to Healthy Active Living (source)