Limber Up! A Short How-to Guide for Daily Stretching
How can just a few minutes of daily stretching affect your health, posture, and performance? Is it really as simple as a few minutes here, a few there? With a little bit of direction and commitment, you can be well on your way to this one seriously healthy habit and incredible mobility as a result. Say goodbye to stiff, locked up limbs and crackly joints by applying this general daily limber template and advice to your daily routine.
Is Daily Stretching Safe?
Holding stretches for long periods of time or at high intensity every day is NOT something we advocate, as that can make you very sore and impede your recovery. What we DO promote, however, is lightly mobilizing every day. Holding essential stretch positions for a short amount of time (anywhere from 10-45 seconds) and not forcing excessive depth is absolutely beneficial for everyone. This will help loosen your muscles, get blood flowing to all of your joints, and prepare your body for exercising AND recovery.
Get Blood Flow In Your Joints
If you have the time, begin your daily limber routine with some light cardiovascular activity. A short jump rope session, easy jogging, or some active stretches will all get your blood flowing to the areas you’re about to limber up. The goal is to keep this session light, not treating it as a workout, but rather as a recovery bout. Movements like arm and hip circles, jumping jacks, and cherry pickers are all great examples of some active, warm-up style stretches. Spend about 5-10 minutes on this portion of your limber.
Get your blood pumping by including a little cardio in your workout routine.
Now that your blood is pumping, it’s time to limber! Putting together a daily stretch routine is as simple as choosing a few positions that will cover all the major areas of the body. Starting with the shoulders (or neck, if you’re comfortable with it) and working down the body is an easy way to organize the session. Pick a couple of your favorite stretches or mobility exercises – or ones you tend to avoid – from your GB Online Courses and get after it.
If you know the areas of your body that need a little extra attention, customize your limber and spend some extra time there. If you’re not quite sure which areas of your body are tighter, a daily limber will help you learn that about yourself! Limbering is a win-win.
For the shoulders, it’s a great idea to include overhead (shoulder flexion) and behind the back (shoulder extension) stretches. Working further down the body, stretch the thoracic spine with a basic arch position – an area that is critical for most adults. You have plenty of options for hips and legs so don’t be afraid to mix things up and stretch all sides of your hips and thighs.
Stretching Full Circle
As an alternative to simply working from the top down, it can be helpful to instead treat each body part as having four major areas to stretch: the front, right and left sides, and back. This is, of course, overly simplified, but can help ensure you stretch all critical muscles surrounding each area before moving on.
For example, in order to stretch the entire hip and thighs properly, you’ll need to stretch out the front side of your hips and thighs (your quads and hip flexors), the outside and inside (your adductors and abductors), and your backside (your glutes). Picking a single stretch for each of these sections will ensure your hips feel nice and loose after the session. It’s easy to see how doing this with each major area of the body will help you create a fluid, effective limber.
If you’re having trouble deciding which stretches to include or desire a little extra guidance, our introductory course, Fundamentals, will walk you through dozens of basic stretches and ultimately leave you with a guided daily limber to follow along with. Remember, this is just the beginning of how you can begin to improve your fitness, well-being, and athleticism. Get the full package of mobility and functional strength with the GymnasticBodies Stretching and Online Training Courses!