Stretching your muscles for 30 minutes per week can help you maintain your flexibility well into old age. Spending just 4 minutes to stretch per day is a tiny investment to spare yourself the future embarrassment of needing help to the toilet when you’re older. Here are some pointers for a more effective stretching routine.
Count Breaths, Not Seconds
Instead of counting seconds while you stretch, which only adds to the tedium of it, try counting breaths. Ten breaths is all you need for any stretch. It will help your mind stay in better tune with your body.
Bouncing during a stretch causes muscles to tighten in order to protect themselves, thereby defeating the purpose of the stretch. Muscles prefer to be coaxed rather than jolted, so as you begin a stretch, do so slowly and smoothly, working toward a position that starts to feel tight but never painful.
Stretch When You’re Warm
A lot of guys confuse stretching and warming up. Warming up means 5 to 10 minutes of cardiovascular activity – enough to break a light sweat. It doesn’t mean doing some twisting with a broomstick over your shoulders – that’s actually stretching. The best time to stretch is after you’ve warmed up.
End every workout with this move: Sit on the floor with your right leg straight in front of you. Bend your left leg, and put the sole of your left foot on the inside of your right thigh. (Your legs will look like the number 4.) WIth your right hand, try to touch either your right ankle or your right big toe. This stretches your right calf, Achilles tendon, hamstring, hip, knee, glutes, lower back muscles, shoulder, arm, and wrist. Hold the position for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then switch and do the same for your left side.
For The Busy Man
When time is short, the bow pose will stretch your entire body in one simple move. Lie on your stomach and draw your feet toward your butt. Bring your arms behind you and grab your ankles. Gently pull your feet close to your butt and hold. In time, you’ll be ready for the next step: Continue to hold your ankles as you gently raise your upper body and legs off the floor. Hold for as long as is comfortable, then lower yourself.