Starting your day with a few stretching exercises not only increases your flexibility and blood circulation, it also prepares your body for the rest of the day. “Wired as an instinct from our hunting days, morning stretching prepares our body for our daily tasks,” says physical therapist Rosauro Peciller, Jr. After six to eight hours of rest from the night before, our bodies need a wake up call, signaling that it’s time for some work. “This simple act renews blood supply to our muscles and stimulates joint lubrication to allow ease in movement,” says Peciller. To maximize each stretch, make sure to follow these tips:
- WARM UP. Rev up your muscles by doing light aerobic exercise for five minutes (like jogging or walking in place) before stretching to prevent you from straining your muscles.
- DON’T GO OVERBOARD. Gently ease yourself into the stretch and relax (don’t push too hard or bounce!) You’re after a stretch in the muscles –not pain.
- BREATHE RIGHT. Don’t hold your breath! Inhale deeply while preparing to do the stretch, exhale as you execute it.
- HOLD IT. Keep the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds. Any shorter and you won’t get any benefit from the stretch, but longer than that might cause injury.
- GET INTO IT. Close your eyes and stay with it. Enjoy the warm feeling that comes with a good stretch (instead of rushing off to the next one).
SOURCE: Marie Claire, April 2006