If you can relate, you’re not alone. And thankfully, it’s never too late to start a daily stretching routine. Because according to scientific research, there are some pretty darn good reasons we should all start following one ASAP.
Aside from improving our flexibility and feeling amazing, daily stretching has been proven to improve our circulation. This promotes faster blood cell production, which makes it easier for our bodies to heal from wounds and helps our natural filtration system get rid of waste. Stretching is beneficial for our mental health, too; that boost in blood flow directly improves brain function. One other reason to stretch it out: Good circulation can also improve your sexual health.
Eager to reap the benefits of daily stretching? In the latest episode of Well+Good’s “Good Moves” series, trainer, professional dancer, and yoga instructor Nicole Uribarri walks us through a daily stretching routine that can improve your overall flexibility and range of motion in less than 10 minutes. All you need is a flat floor to work on, maybe a yoga mat for some cushioning, and two yoga blocks. (Tip: If you don’t own yoga blocks, you can use a small pillow, a stack of books, or a folded blanket in their place.)
This stretch routine can be done at any time of the day, but is designed specifically for the beginning of the day, when our body is at its tightest. “Take note: We’re doing a series of dynamic stretches, meaning stretches that are movement-based,” says Uribarri, who says that static stretching (when you just hold the position) is best done after a workout. “What we’re doing is best done before doing any kind of physical activity, strenuous workout, or first thing in the morning.”
Uribarri focuses on spine-lengthening stretches that also elongate the extremities and loosen up the body from head to toe. For the stretch-deprived, some of these moves will be challenging. So take things slow and remember to breathe. “Relax your shoulders as best as you can, try to relax your jaw, your forehead, and then gently let it go,” says Uribarri. “We may not even realize it, but when we’re in deep stretches for our hips, specifically, and we feel tight, those parts of the body—jaw, forehead—tend to really clench. So be cognizant of that as you breathe and as you flow.”
Once you reach the end of the series, you’ll feel limber, loose, and ready to take on the day—and you’ll know you’ve already done something to improve your overall health. “Take a moment to breathe,” says Uribarri, “knowing that you’ve done something really great for yourself at the start of the day.”
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