Whether you’re old or young, properly stretching before and after going on a hike or jumping in the pool this summer can have positive benefits on your health. In this blog post, we’ll highlight a few of those benefits and a couple of simple stretching techniques you can use.
- Stretching can improve blood flow to your muscles. Your blood flow to different muscles in your body can slow down if those muscles aren’t used very often. Slow blood flow can lead to aches, soreness, and pain - most commonly in areas like your shoulders and back. Stretching can help your body speed up how quickly blood moves through it, and over time, can help get rid of those pains.
- Reducing muscle strain can have benefits for your mental health as well. If you’re feeling stressed out, it’s very common for that stress to lead to muscle tightness. One great way to help yourself de-stress is by working on relaxing your muscles. Doing yoga or taking a bit of time to practice mindfulness every day can help relax your mind and body.
- Stretching helps get your muscles ready for physical activity. Stretching or “warming up” before a hike, football game or swimming can help get your body ready to safely exercise. Stretching after exercise can have benefits on your flexibility and blood flow as well.
Standing Hamstring Stretch
This stretch helps your neck, back, and your legs. To do it, stand tall and move your feet to around the length of your shoulders apart. Bend your knees slightly and slowly move your upper body down the length of your body while keeping your legs as straight as you can. You only need to go down as far as you feel comfortable with. Hold this position for between 60 seconds and two minutes.
This stretch helps your shoulders, back, neck, and upper arm. To perform this stretch, reach one of your arms towards your back and try to touch the bottom of your neck. Use your other arm to hold on to your first arms elbow and gently push it further down you back. Go as far back as you can without hurting yourself. Hold this position for about a minute and then switch and perform the same action with your other arm.
Side Bend Stretch
Stand up straight and place one of your hands on your hip and stretch the other one straight up above your head. Slowly lean your body in the direction of whichever arm you have on your hip until you feel a stretch in your side. You can also add your legs to this stretch by performing it on your knees and extending out one of your legs in the direction of the arm you have on your hip. Lean into that leg and stretch out your stomach and leg.