A great massage will have you coming home feeling like a new person. But what about the next morning? For those who aren’t used to regular body work appointments, you might be feeling a little sore after your first visit. Stretching is one of the best ways to help your body recover.
Stretching also has other amazing benefits:
- improves your joint range of motion.
- increases blood flow to the muscle.
- improves flexibility.
- leaves you feeling fresh and energized.
What kind of stretches should I do?
For athletes, the type of stretching you do and at what time you do it matters a lot. Static stretching, for instance, may be beneficial under most circumstances. But this stretch has been proven to impair performance before a 100 meter sprint. Athletes might focus on more dynamic stretches which involve lots of mobility. For our purposes, our best recommendation is to focus on static stretches.
Static stretches are simple body positions where you reach and hold the position for 10-30 seconds. It’s that easy! Static stretches are best for muscle recovery when done correctly.
Before you begin …
Form is important when exercising your flexibility. Stretching when your muscles are cold can lead to more damage than recovery. Here are things to consider before beginning your regular stretching routine:
Use proper technique
If you feel more pain than a good stretch, it is a good indicator that something is wrong.
Warm-up before stretching
To bring a good blood flow to your muscles, go for a short walk or do some cleaning around the house.
Do not “bounce” when you stretch
It is important to hold your stretch as to prevent stress on the muscle.
Reach until you feel the stretch
Don’t aim for pain. If it hurts, you’ve gone too far. If you’re aiming to improve your flexibility, push it right to the limit of where it hurts, and over time you’ll find that your flexibility improves. Don’t try to force the results.
Maintain a daily stretching routine
The benefits of stretching, like massages, come when you do it regularly.
Proper water intake prevents muscle cramps.
Great stretches for each part of your body
Foam Roll Calf Stretch
Foam Rollers are great just about anything! If you don’t own your own foam roller, you can purchase them here at the Good Life Massage, are relatively inexpensive, and are widely available.
- Begin by sitting on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you
- Cross your legs and place them on top of the foam roller.
- With your hands to your side, gently lift yourself off of the ground and allow the foam roller to move from your knee to the ankle. Pause in places of tension for 10-30 seconds.
- Switch legs crossed.
Wall Calf Stretch
- While facing the wall, position your feet around four feet from the wall. Place one foot forward.
- Lean forward, resting your hands against the wall. Try to keep each part of your body in alignment.
- Keep your heel on the ground. Hold the stance for 10-30 seconds. Switch legs.
Shoulder and Tricep Stretch
- While standing, position your feet shoulder length a part.
- With the forearm of one hand, pull the elbow of your other arm past your shoulder until you feel a pull.
- Hold for 10-30 seconds. Switch arms.
- While sitting on the ground, leave one leg stretched outward, with the other leg bent.
- With both hands, grab the leg that is bent and pull backwards while slowly leaning back (be sure to keep your neck and shoulders relaxed).
- Once you feel the stretch, hold for 10-30 seconds. Switch legs.
Lower Back Stretch
- While sitting on the ground, leave left leg stretched outward, with your right leg bent, crossed over the straight leg.
- Place your right arm on your left leg and keep your left arm stretched outward. Slowly twist until you feel a slight stretch.
- Hold for 10-30 seconds and switch legs.
Cobra Stretch (Lower Back)
- Lay down with your chest on the ground.
- Place your hands as if you were to do a push up.
- Push off the ground while keeping your hips to the ground. Hold for 10-30 seconds.
Forearm-Finger Tip Stretch
- While standing, stretch out your arm with the palm of the hand facing the ceiling.
- Gently pull down the fingertips of your hand until you feel a slight stretch.
- Hold for 10-20 seconds. Then switch to the other hand.
Neck and Trapezius Stretch
- Be especially gentle with this stretch as to avoid pulling any muscles
- With one hand, cradle the back of your head and pull slightly towards your shoulder, hold for 10-30 seconds.
- Switch arms to stretch the other side of your neck.
Hamstring Stretch (Hurtler Stretch)
- Sit on the ground with both legs stretched out in front of you.
- Bend one leg in towards your outstretched leg.
- Slowly lean towards your outstretch leg. Touch your toes if possible. Hold your stretch for 10-30 seconds.
Upper Back Stretch
- Kneel down on a soft surface.
- Prostrate yourself on the ground extending your hands as far out in front of you as possible.
- Hold position for 10-30 seconds.
You won’t need to sacrifice hours in a week to create a daily stretching routine. Just Five minutes a day is an investment that can provide years of mobility as you grow older.
Tanner Zornes is a blog contributor for the Good Life Massage and a student at Brigham Young University. Special thanks to our own Vanessa Mabra, LMP for inspiring this post and assisting in the research.