WELLNESS RX: Daily Full Body Stretch Routine

While lifting weights and eating nutrient-dense foods are critical to achieving mind-body balance, there’s an overlooked and under appreciated component missing from many people’s fitness plans: a stretch routine. For all the effort we put into hitting PRs, conquering a HIIT+ Class, or securing a win on the pickleball court, we rarely dedicate the time or attention to taking care of our physical and mental wellness through stretching. 

While lifting weights and eating nutrient-dense foods are critical to achieving mind-body balance, there’s an overlooked and under appreciated component missing from many people’s fitness plans: a stretch routine. For all the effort we put into hitting PRs, conquering a HIIT+ Class, or securing a win on the pickleball court, we rarely dedicate the time or attention to taking care of our physical and mental wellness through stretching. 

Luckily, you only have to carve out a small window in your schedule twice a day to implement this valuable practice. With benefits that include improved flexibility, increased blood flow, and reduced stress, following both a morning stretch routine and one before bed can make a major difference in your performance and overall well-being. 

If you’re ready to show your brain and body some love, use this full-body stretch routine to set yourself up for long-term success. 

But first, let’s explore why you should commit to stretching on a daily basis.

Benefits of Following a Stretching Routine

Let’s face it: Our lives revolve around sitting and staring at a screen. From watching Netflix on the couch to scrolling through Instagram at the doctor’s office to sending emails from your work computer, it’s all too easy to spend too much time in a sedentary state–and too little time doing the work to counteract some of the negative impacts of sitting for so long. 

That’s where stretching comes into play. 

Besides being a great way to get away from the chaos of everyday life, implementing a structured stretching protocol in the morning and at night can help you maximize the return on your investment in yourself. 

This simple-but-effective activity can have a positive impact on both your physical and mental health. Potential benefits of stretching include:

Increased range of motion

Do your joints justice by stretching on a regular basis. Doing so will allow you to get into the proper position for your lifts comfortably and make moving around feel easier as you take a joint through its full range of motion. 

Enhanced performance 

Ask any professional athlete about the keys to peak performance and you’ll surely get stretching as an answer. The preparation process for sports, working out, or other physical activities should include a dynamic stretch routine that opens up your hip flexors, glutes, quads, and shoulders. 

More flexibility 

Flexibility is by no means a fitness fad. It’s actually incredibly important for your overall health. Performing daily tasks like going upstairs, reaching for a box on the top shelf, or even tying your shoes will be much easier if you follow a daily stretching routine. Becoming more flexible can also help you maintain your mobility as you get older. 

Improved posture 

One of the downsides to living in the digital age is how detrimental it can be to our physical health. Between hunched-over necks, rounded shoulders, and shortened hamstrings, you have all the makings of muscle imbalances, back pain, and bad posture. A stretching and strengthening routine can help correct or prevent those issues by supporting proper alignment. 

Better blood flow 

Improved circulation carries significant consequences. (Don’t worry, they’re all positive!) Routine stretching can increase blood flow to your muscles, potentially reducing your recovery time and the dreaded delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) that comes with resistance training.  

Stress relief 

Your body’s natural response to a stressful situation is to tighten up. Stretching tension-prone areas like your neck, back, traps, and shoulders should be a part of your daily routine. Besides providing some physical relief, it’ll also give you a chance to relax, unwind, and be present. 

Discipline development

Sticking to any routine or plan is particularly beneficial because it teaches you the importance of discipline. If you know you need to get in 10 minutes of stretching after waking up and before you go to sleep, you will have to plan accordingly. And if you know you need to stretch daily to become your best self, you will live a disciplined lifestyle that supports your goals. 

Level Up Your Morning Routine: Easy & Effective Stretching Protocol

Instead of hitting the snooze button to squeeze out a few more minutes of sleep, begin your day with a little bit of #selfcare. Take 5-10 minutes to go through some basic stretches that can be performed without having to leave your room. In fact, you can complete a handful of them right from your bed! 

So, say goodbye to sluggish starts, tense muscles, and achy joints by making this A.M. stretching sequence a daily priority. 

Knees-to-chest

While laying on your mattress, lift your knees and bring them as close to your chest as possible. Grasp your knees with both hands, take several deep breaths, and return to the starting position. 

This stretch is great for opening up your spine, lower back, and hips. 

Spinal twist 

Lying on your back, bend one leg and carefully roll it over to the opposite side as you keep both of your shoulders in contact with the bed. To get a deeper stretch, extend one arm to the side and turn your head to face outward as you pull the knee across with your other hand. 

Repeat on the opposite side. 

Neck stretch 

Sitting on the edge of the bed, place your right hand on the top of your head, and gently pull your right ear toward your right shoulder. Do not go beyond what feels comfortable. 

Hold the stretch for about 20 seconds before switching to the other side. 

Child’s Pose

A staple in every yoga practice, the child’s pose can be completed in bed or on the floor. This full-body stretch targets your arms, shoulders, back, hips, pelvis, glutes, and hamstrings–-with minimal effort required. 

All you need to do is kneel with your knees hip-width apart and lower your upper body with your arms out and palms down until your chest is close to the mattress or floor. Hold for several breaths while continuing to stretch your arms away from you as far as comfortably possible. 

Cat-Cow

Next, work on releasing tension in your spine and activating your abdominals with cat-cow. This dynamic movement also helps you become more aware of your breathing.

Begin on all fours with your shoulders directly over your wrists and your hips aligned with your knees. The “cow” portion comes on the inhale, as you must drop your belly and let your back arch while looking slightly upward. Then, exhale and press your hands into the ground and round your upper back to execute the “cat” part of this useful stretch. 

Triceps stretch

Side sleepers will appreciate the simplicity and usefulness of the triceps stretch. In either a standing or seated position, extend your left arm across the front of your body, place your right arm vertically over your elbow, and gently pull your left arm closer to your body. 

Hold the stretch for several breaths, then lower your arms and perform on the other side. 

Forward Fold

End your A.M. stretch session with a pose that provides time for reflection. To execute the forward fold, stand with your knees slightly bent and your feet approximately hip-width apart. Hinge at your hips and let your upper body hang down to a comfortable level. 

As you take several deep breaths, sway back and forth to stretch your hamstrings and release tension in your lower back. Return to standing, set your intention for the day, and carry on with the rest of your morning routine. 

Bonus: Get Better Rest With This Before-Bed Stretch Routine

Getting quality sleep is critical for recovery and our overall health. Prepare your body for a well-earned night’s rest by taking 5-10 minutes to complete this easy pre-bed stretching routine. 

  1. Bear Hug 

Not only does this stretch take some tension off your shoulders, traps, and rhomboids, but it gives you a moment for self-love. Simply wrap your arms around yourself, hold onto your shoulders, and pull for anywhere from 30-45 seconds. 

  1. Assisted Chest Stretch

Working on a computer all day can take a toll on your posture. Open up your chest and counteract rounded shoulders by using a doorway for leverage. With your forearms positioned flat on the doorframe and your shoulders and elbows forming 90-degree angles, lean forward. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. 

  1. Overhead Low Lunge 

Sitting isn’t friendly for our hip flexors. Performing an overhead lunge stretch can undo some of the damage from remaining in a seated position for countless hours. Get into a low lunge position and raise your hands overhead toward the ceiling. Breathe deeply, push your front leg forward, and feel your hips, thighs, and groin begin to open up.

  1. Butterfly Pose 

Another groin-focused stretch you should do before bed, the butterfly pose is easy to perform. While sitting, bring the soles of your feet together and keep your spine in a neutral position. Push down on your inner thighs with your elbows to deepen the stretch. 

5. Legs On the Wall 

Wrap up your nighttime stretching routine with a movement that helps with circulation and digestive issues. Lay on your side with your legs along the wall. Then, roll onto your back and raise your legs so they’re parallel to the wall. Just breathe as you release tension in your hips and relax your mind before you crawl into bed. 

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