If you never stretch, what will happen? Why do you need to stretch at all? Has any part of your body ever hurt, felt tight, or had a limited range of motion? Maybe feeling tired all the time and having trouble going to sleep?
Not only can a good stretching routine help you with all of the above, but it can also help you heal faster and keep your health in general in better shape.
A regular stretching routine also lowers your risk of getting hurt because it trains your muscles to work at their best. And doing some gentle stretches before bed helps you sleep better and relaxes your muscles, so you wake up feeling fresh and easy.
15-Minute Stretching Routine Benefits
An easy stretch in the middle of the day is a good way to reset our bodies, especially our necks, shoulders, backs, and hips, which can feel tight or sore after hours of sitting. But stretching also helps your mind in ways like making it easier to focus and reducing stress and anxiety. Here are some more ways that stretching is good for your body and mind:
- Decreases risk of joint and muscle injuries
- Improves circulation and blood vessel function
- Increases range of motion
- Reduces pain caused by poor posture
- Promotes feelings of relaxation
- Releases hormones for mood changes
- Focuses your awareness on the present
Now that you know why you should stretch let’s make a quick and easy stretching routine that you can easily fit into your day. At least once a day, do this set of stretches to improve your mobility, flexibility, and mental health.
1. Head Roll
- Stand up straight with arms at your sides and feet shoulder-width apart.
- Carefully drop your chin down toward the chest.
- Slowly roll your head to one side, completing a full rotation.
- Once your head is back at your chest, rest for 5 seconds, then roll to the other side.
- Repeat 5 times.
2. Dynamic Palm Stretch
Stand with your feet together, arms by the side of the body, and palms facing the thighs. Look forward.
- Choose a point of focus in front, interlock your fingers, and while inhaling, come up on your toes while stretching your arms up, palms facing the sky. Hold it for 5 seconds and come back.
- Keep breathing while you hold the stretch, and exhale while coming back.
- Repeat 5 times.
3. Dynamic Right Angle Stretch
- Stand with your feet together, arms by the side of the body, and palms facing the thighs. Look forward.
- While inhaling, stretch both your arms above the head towards the sky, fingers pointing up.
- While exhaling, bend forward from the lower back with arms stretched forward as close to the ears as possible.
- Stop as your torso comes parallel to the ground.
- Look down, or in case of cervical tension, look forward. Hold for 5 seconds.
- Inhale, come up, and stretch yourself up.
- Exhale and bend forward with arms stretched, bringing your torso parallel to the ground.
- Repeat five times and relax.
4. Standing Forward Bend
Stand tall with your feet hip distance apart. Soften your knees and slowly fold forward toward your toes. Allow your upper body to hang loosely. Slowly sway side-to-side to release any tension in your lower back. Hold for 15–30 seconds before releasing to standing. Repeat if desired.
5. Downward-Facing Dog Pose
Start on your hands and knees, with your wrists stacked under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Lift your tailbone and press your hips up and back, drawing them toward the ceiling. Pedal out each leg before slowly straightening them, and press your heels gently toward the floor. Hold for 15–30 seconds and release back to your knees. Repeat if desired.
When should you stretch?
Active stretching, also called dynamic stretching, uses movement to lengthen muscles and get the blood moving. Static stretches are held for a certain amount of time, usually between 10 seconds and 3 minutes. When you stretch, if you feel like you want to let go right away, that could mean you need to spend more time stretching this area. You can ease into it if you want.
Stretch your body after you’ve warmed up or at the end of your workout as part of a cool-down routine, when your muscles are already warm. Or, you can just do a simple routine of stretching. Stretching after you warm up and before you start doing something hard can slow down your heart rate. Before you start your workout, make sure your heart rate is back up.
Most of the time, your muscles will be more open and flexible at the end of the day. If you usually work out in the evening, don’t expect to be as flexible if you stretch in the morning instead.
Muscles that have been warmed up tend to work better, so it’s important to include both dynamic and static stretching in your pre-workout routine every day.
If your muscles are sore after a hard workout, you might feel better if you do some static stretching. Make sure to stretch your whole body, paying special attention to the muscles you used during your workout.
After sitting and before bed
The parasympathetic part of your nervous system helps your body rest and digest. Because of this, a lot of people find that stretching before bed helps them relax, fall asleep, and stay asleep.
Even if you only have a 15-minutes, it’s almost always a good idea to stretch. You’ll feel better both mentally and physically, which might make you want to do more. Check in with a fitness pro or a friend every so often to make sure you’re stretching safely and effectively. Change up your routine every so often so that your body can get used to new stretches. Include some stretches that you don’t like to do. Most likely, they work on parts of your body that could use a little extra care.
Be careful when you stretch if it could hurt your injury problems or health, and give your body time to heal when it needs a break. Talk to a doctor, physical therapist, or fitness professional if you have any specific questions or concerns.
Now that you know all the great things a short 15-minute stretching routine can do for you, don’t wait! You don’t need to warm up before trying this stretching routine, so get up and do it right now. I wish you the best as you try to improve your health. Keep stretching!