If you suffer from body pain recurrently (like back pain), or feel that your whole body muscle is very tight and stiff, it’s time to stretch and relieve it within 10 minutes.
Why did I start stretching?
Like most guys, I hated stretching. Why waste time sitting around when I could be out running?
It hurts to learn that I was wrong—throbbed like hell, actually. I hurt my hip doing a leg workout and going running the same day, and had to shut down.
I called Doug Kechijian, D.P.T., of Resilient Performance Physical Therapy in New York City. A stretching expert, he told me that everyone has imbalances and mobility restrictions. We sit too much and don’t put our bodies into enough different positions.
His prescription? Ten minutes a day of mobility moves.
They felt more like kung fu than calisthenics. Take the modified pigeon stretch.
“Most people stand with their hips shifted to the right, which causes their left hip to tighten up,” Kechijian says.
This pose helps redistribute that weight.
As I sank into it, the painful area in my hip felt like it was being pulled apart—in a good way.
Other moves seemed meant for contortionists. Instead of reps, each was done for a series of extremely deep breaths, a signal for your body to release muscle tightness.
So I started and here’s what happened
I felt relief after the first day, so I kept the circuit up. On gym days it was my warmup. On rest days, I did it in the office or at home in front of the TV. I ignored the odd looks from my coworkers and girlfriend, who dubbed Kechijian “the witch doctor.”
It was totally worth it. Within a month my pain was a memory.
If you’re still not convinced, these 4 things will happen if you stretch every day
You’ll be bright-eyed and raring to go—even at 3 PM.
If you’re totally spent by midafternoon, a stretch break will invigorate you in less time than it would take for a barista to whip up your usual mocha venti skim latte. Just a few minutes of stretching increases blood flow through your entire body—including your brain, says Jennifer Warthan, a certified personal trainer in Surry, VA. “It wakes you up and helps you feel less sluggish.”
You’ll stress less.
Are your shoulders practically touching your ears? Is your back in knots? Stretching can help tame tension both physically and mentally, as it relieves tight muscles while tricking you into feeling more relaxed. (Try this 60-second fix for a sore neck.) Just don’t overdo it, especially if you’re wound pretty tight: “Stretching should never be forced,” Drass says. “You should be able to relax into a stretch. If you’re in pain, you’re doing it wrong.”
You’ll move around more easily and with less pain.
Regular stretching can relieve stiff muscles and creaky joints, but to reap those benefits, it’s important to stretch the correct way. “Avoid the static stretch, or ‘stretch and hold,’” says Michael Ross, MD, medical director for Rothman Institute Performance Lab. “Focus on mobility by doing range-of-motion exercises and soft tissue work with foam rollers.” Range-of-motion exercises include shoulder shrugs, wrist bends, and knee lifts—anything that keeps your muscles and joints moving through (you guessed it!) their full range of motion.
You might be less likely to injure yourself.
The scientific evidence on this one is iffy, but incorporating stretching into your warm-up—never try to stretch cold muscles—might help your body get ready for exercise as well as switch your brain into “workout mode,” says Charles Drass, a certified personal trainer in Marlton, NJ. “Stretching can’t totally eliminate injury, but it could certainly help from a mindset perspective” by getting you more focused so you’re less likely to make an ouch-inducing misstep. Try a few minutes of dynamic stretching, like arm circles and lunges, before you really get going.
Want to get mobilized? Try the stretching moves below. You need just 10 minutes. That’s not a tough stretch.
Here’s how to do it:
Perform each exercise every day for the prescribed time or number of reps. Do them before runs, and intermittently throughout your workday or while winding down on your rest days, says Doug Kechijian, D.P.T., who created this routine.
Assume a half-kneeling position with your back knee close to a box or wall; your back shin should be roughly parallel to the box or wall. You may need to hold on to something at first. Hold the position for 1 to 2 minutes as you contract the stretched leg’s hamstring. Repeat with your other leg.
Get down on all fours and place a pillow or foam roller under your left knee. Lift your right knee and place it behind and to the left of your left calf. Rock your hips back and forth for 2 minutes. You should feel your left hip stretch. Switch sides and repeat.
Counterweight Deep Squat
Grab two light dumbbells and place a foam roller between your thighs. Push your knees forward and then squat until your butt is just above the floor. (Use the lightest weight that allows you to achieve this position.) Try to round your spine by “tucking” your pelvis. From that position, take 5 long, deep breaths. Stand back up. That’s 1 rep. Do 3 to 5.
Hang from a pullup bar. Squeeze your glutes to slightly tilt your pelvis forward. Breathe in deeply. Breathe out as much air as you can—you should feel your lats stretch. Take 5 deep breaths. That’s 1 rep. Do 3 to 5.
Michael Easter is the Fitness Editor of Men’s Health. The article This Man Stretched 10 Minutes a Day For a Month. Here’s What Happened originally appeared on Men’s Health
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