We all know that stretching is an important part of any workout session, whether it’s active stretching to warm up, or longer stretches after training. But how often do you stretch during the day?

There are so many benefits to daily stretching, from reducing back and shoulder pain to encouraging better digestion. Let’s look at the top 5 reasons for everyday stretching – and the best stretches to do when you’re not at the gym.

Should you stretch during the day?

There’s a misconception that stretching only belongs in a workout (or a yoga class). And whilst it’s definitely a great idea to stretch before and after training, it’s also good practice to stretch throughout your day. Most of us spend long periods of time at our desks, using keyboards, or driving. A few simple stretches can really help to balance out the impact of our sedentary lifestyles.

5 ways daily stretching can improve your wellbeing

Stretching should be a core part of your daily routine, even if you haven’t trained that day. In fact, everyday stretches are probably even more important on those days when you don’t get to a gym near you, because they will keep your body moving.

Lengthening and strengthening muscles

Can stretching really ‘lengthen’ muscles? Well, no, because muscles are attached at either end. But stretching can definitely make your muscles feel longer, looser, and less bunched up. And when we spend 7+ hours a day at a desk, or hunched over a laptop, that loosened-up feeling is very welcomed.

Whilst stretching can’t literally lengthen muscles, it can help your body be stronger and more stable at the end-range of squats, lunges, and other everyday movement patterns. Stretching also helps blood and oxygen get to your connective tissue, which has a positive impact on daily activity and training.

Correcting postural issues

Sitting at a desk for hours, scrolling on your phone, and even the way you sit on the sofa can lead to postural issues like rounded shoulders and shortened hip flexors. A few daily stretches can ease out those tight areas and encourage your body to hold a better posture.

Stretching one side of your body can even get the opposing side to work harder – stretching your chest, for example, could strengthen your upper back as you pull your shoulder blades together.

Easing everyday aches and pains

Most of us go through the day with low level discomfort, including stiff neck, aching hips, and sore lower back. Regular stretching can go a long way towards easing these sore spots. Prone twists, for example, can stretch out the lower back and many even get that elusive ‘click’ that has been keeping your back tight.

Reducing likelihood of injury

As a fitness fan, you definitely don’t want any time out of the gym with injury. A little daily stretching can vastly reduce your chances of injury when you workout. Regular stretching gets more blood to your connective tissue and enhances the elasticity of muscles and tendons. This reduces your risk of sprains, strains, and severe DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness) from working out.

Rest and relaxation mood boost

Finally, don’t forget that taking 5 minutes out of your day to stretch simple feels great. It’s a dedicated pocket of time where you are caring for yourself and focusing on taking deep breaths as your body relaxes. And that’s great for your emotional wellbeing and mood. It might even help you sleep better!

9 best stretches for your daily routine

1. Side stretches – stand up straight with your arms overhead. Take hold of the left wrist with the right hand and lean to the right without tipping the torso forward. Repeat on the other side.

2. Neck stretches – tilt your head to one side and hold for 10-20 seconds, repeat on the other side. Think about pressing the opposite shoulder down.

3. Shoulder rolls – roll your shoulders forward, up, and back, holding for 5 seconds in any tight spots.

4. Forward fold – stand with feet hip width and slowly roll down until your upper body and head are hanging loose. Alternatively, do this seated with your legs straight out in front of you.

5. Hip flexor stretch – get into a low lunge with your back knee on the floor, both knees at right angles. Tuck your bum under and lean slightly forward to feel the stretch in your rear hip flexor.

6. Chest stretch – stand in a doorway with your palms on either side of the doorframe. Lean forward to get a stretch across your chest.

7. Upper back stretch – clasp your hands in front of your chest with your arms straight, press forward as you round your upper back and dip your chin to your chest.

8. Calf stretchtight calves can cause a lot of aches and pains, but it’s easy to stretch them. Either use a step, hanging one heel off the back of the step for 15-20 seconds at a time. Or face a wall and lean forward in a short lunge stance, with both heels on the floor.

9. Spinal twist – this stretch will help your upper back, mid back, lower back, hips, glutes and even your IT band. Lie on your back with your left leg out straight, right leg bent. Take the right leg over to the left. Put your arms out in a T-shape and look to the right if comfortable. Repeat on the other side. Spend as long as you can in these twists to ease your back out.

Stretch on rest days from the gym

Stretching isn’t just something you should do on training days, it’s a valuable part of your everyday health and wellness routine. Set aside 5 minutes once or twice a day to take a stretching break in the morning, before bed, or during your work day. You’ll soon feel the difference in your mood, mental wellbeing, and all those niggling aches and pains. Your body wants to stretch – this is your sign to do it!

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