I have to confess that I am not good enough about stretching. I never do it before a workout, and rarely do it after, but whenever I do, I always feel much more at ease (both mentally and physically). I do, however, try to stretch every morning and night, just before or after taking off my brace, because I get more stiff wearing the brace for a couple hours than I do sitting in the same chair at school for six hours.
Honestly, I didn’t know about the whole stretching world that existed (it seems that a new yoga or pilates studio pops up every week) until a couple of months ago. I made this exciting discovery when, after practice one day, my muscles were tight, and I looked up a stretching video on YouTube (there are tons, if you don’t want to pay an absurd amount to be told to breathe in a hot, sweaty room). It was at this time that I realized that I couldn’t even reach my toes. Pathetic for a limber teenager. And so, my stretching journey began.
When I’m in a rush and don’t necessarily have time to do a full body stretch, I usually just focus on these 5 stretches. These are the stretches that really help to relieve tension in my back muscles from wearing the brace for long periods of time. The tightness, while annoying, can be easily relieved, especially if you remember, we’re bent, not broken! :)
1. Start lying on your back.
2. Reach your arms up and squeeze your ears, with one hand on top of the other.
3. Point your toes and reach with your arms to elongate the body.
Benefits: This stretch is a great way to start stretching. It loosens up the leg muscles, torso, and arm muscles. I tend to begin and end my stretching routine with this stretch.
1. Start lying on your stomach, with your legs straight.
2. Place your hands directly under your shoulders and arch your back.
3. Point your toes and press your feet and thighs into the ground.
4. Hold for about 30 seconds, with regular, deep breathing.
Benefits: This stretch strengthens the spine and opens the chest and shoulders.
Knee to Chest
1. Start lying on your back.
2. Place one leg flat on the ground.
3. Lift the knee of your other leg up towards your chest.
4. Grab your knee with both hands and pull your knee towards your chest until you feel a good stretch.
5. Release after 30 seconds and repeat with the other leg.
Benefits: This stretch loosens the lower back and hamstrings.
1. Start on your knees with your toes touching and your knees apart.
2. Sit back until your hips are as close to your heels as possible.
3. Lean forward and place your forehead on the ground, with your arms reaching forward and palms on the ground.
4. Try to reach your hands as forward as they will go and hold for a few minutes.
Benefits: This stretch is relaxing and helps stretch out your shoulders, upper back, hip, thighs, and ankles.
1. Position yourself on your hands and knees.
2. Keep your knees hips length apart and your hands shoulder length apart.
3. Make sure that your hands are directly under your shoulders and your knees are directly under your hips.
4. As you inhale, bring your back up, to be round and look down to your belly button.
5. As you exhale, release and arch your back. Point your head to the ceiling and stick your bottom towards and ceiling. Benefits: This stretch helps control breathing with slow, deep breaths. It stretches your shoulders, neck, and lower back.