"There's a difference between stretching to release tight muscles, like after a workout, and stretching for flexibility," says Annick Robinson, fitness and yoga teacher and trainer. "Flexibility is important because as we age, we lose range of motion and become limited in how we move. Stretching for flexibility isn't about being athletic; it's about maintaining your quality of life as you age. And we all want that."
Like a cat or just about any other animal, stretching should be part of your daily routine because it brings so many benefits, including:
- Maintain and improve range of motion — how far your joints can move, extend and rotate.
- Maintain and improve your posture — so that your body is aligned as it should be.
- Reduce injuries — like pulled or sore muscles from doing everyday activities.
- Helps with mobility — so you can move more freely without pain or discomfort.
"Stretching is something our bodies want to do naturally," explains Annick. "But your mindless 30-second morning tip-toe yawn isn't enough. It takes more than that but, if done correctly, simple stretches can make a huge difference in how you look, feel and carry yourself."
Stretch with Annick
Let Annick Robinson take you through a simple, yet effective, stretch routine that will take about 5 minutes. To get the most of her exercises, she recommends the following:
- Sync your stretch with your breath. Here's how:
- To start, stretch a muscle to resistance and then hold for 8 to 30 seconds — whatever feels comfortable.
- Take a deep breath in and as you exhale stretch a little deeper until you feel resistance again.
- Let your body relax into the stretch.
- Each stretch should take about 30 seconds, including pressing through to a greater stretch. If it feels good, hold your stretch for a longer period of time.
- Relax, keep calm and focus on the muscle you're stretching.
- Stretch the "belly" of the muscle. You should feel the stretch in the muscle, not your joint or ligaments or tendons.
- Don't push yourself and know when to stop. Overdoing it can cause injuries. You should feel the stretch but it shouldn't feel uncomfortable or painful.
- Do this routine 2 to 3 times a week to start.
- Check with your doctor if you have any concerns about following this — or any — exercise routine.
Okay, let's stretch it out!
This video is done in eight "chapters" so you can jump between stretches or follow this routine from beginning to end.