There are just so many benefits to keeping your muscles stretched, limber, and loose. Stretching is a regular part of my self-care regime, and I recommend you add it in whenever you can.
Not only does a healthy dose of flexibility allow for increased functional longevity, but regular stretching also allows for better circulation of fresh blood to the muscles, which can help the body recover faster.
Join me for this Full Body Stretching and Flexibility Routine – it will leave you feeling refreshed from head to toe in just 20 minutes. Plus I’ll talk about some of the benefits of stretching in the sauna (I use one a few times a week), how to stretch before your muscles are warm, and show you great stretches you can do at your desk.
Stretching is a smart, strong, self-care activity that feels amazing, so let’s get started!
What kinds of stretches are there?
Static Stretches, like the kind primarily featured in this video, are best when your muscles are good and warm. For example, after you’ve worked out, after a hot shower or bath, or during or after a sauna session.
A static stretch pushes a muscle to its full capacity and then allows it to reach a new level of flexibility. For example, yoga is a great practice of stretching that incorporates breathing and flowing movement with deep stretching.
Speaking of breathing, a great way to deepen a stretch is to take a deep breath in, and then gently deepen into your stretch on the out breath. You’ll see me demo this in the video.
Dynamic stretches are great for the beginning of a workout, to help you warm up and I demo those close to the end of the video.
This type of light, active movement essentially alerts the synovial fluid that lives in your joint space that it’s time to get moving. These simple movements help signal your muscles that it’s time to wake up, warm up, and work!
When is the best time to stretch?
Any time is a good time to stretch! It just depends what kind of stretching you’re going to do.
- Pre-workout: dynamic stretching; mobility, movement-based exercises
- Post-workout: static stretching and holds
Like I said above, the best time to hold a static stretch is when your muscles are warm – so after your workout is done, after you get out of the shower, after you finish a sauna session, or even IN the sauna.
Studies have actually shown that stretching while in a sauna can increase your flexibility and formulate greater changes at a cellular level – pretty cool!
Overall, the most crucial factor is that you DO stretch, no matter what time of day, both before and after your workout. Both types are effective, so as soon as you take action, you’ll be benefiting!
How long do I hold a stretch?
This is a subjective answer because each and every body is unique. Even more than that, how long you personally need to hold a stretch can and will change. The key is tuning in and paying close attention to the conversation your body is always ready and willing to have with you.
Here’s how I stretch and how I recommend others stretching:
On a 1-10 scale, you want your stretch starting point to be about a 7, or a “good hurt.” An 8 on that scale would be an “ow, it hurts,” where a 5-6 just feels good, but not with intensity. This is subjective to you, so while you and I both have a 7, it can feel different to each of us. So really just listen to your body and use the number descriptions to help you get into it.
Once you’ve found your sweet spot at 7, you should hold the stretch until it lessens to a 5 or 6. No need to count to 30 (unless you want to).
Practice taking a deep breath in to lengthen the muscle, and then exhale to fold deeper into the stretch.