As a personal trainer, I’ve helped my clients to build strength and endurance by designing programs that challenge and transform their bodies. As a fitness professional, I also recognize the value of the other side of the equation; rest and recovery. Over time, I’ve come to appreciate just how important it really is to give yourself the luxury of healing. Focusing on mobility and flexibility is not only a great way to maximize the benefits of your workouts—it’s an essential part of staying injury-free.
It’s a fact that as we get older our bodies tend to become less flexible. Couple that with our sedentary lifestyles, often spending hours a day slouched as we sit at our computers or looking down at our phones, and you can appreciate the importance of stretching and maintaining proper posture. Whether you’ve been feeling tight, want to maximize your workouts, are trying to prevent injuries, or simply feel like you have poor posture, I strongly encourage you to make stretching and mobility improvement a part of your daily routine.
Think of stretching as a way of resetting and helping your body regain balance and equilibrium after a stressful day. I like to set aside a little time each day to focus on recovery and reducing any pain or tightness I may be feeling. Whether you choose to stretch first thing in the morning, as a midday break, or at the end of a long day, try your best to carve out time for this important practice where it best serves you. One of my favourite products to use to help deepen my stretching practice is Saje’s Pain Release roll-on. It’s simple and easy to use; roll directly onto areas that feel tight or tense, and the combination of soothing marjoram and relieving rosemary will have your muscles feeling loose and relaxed in no time. Another product I use regularly is the Muscle Melt body butter to help stretch out my muscles, anytime, anywhere. As a body butter, it helps soften and hydrate the skin, yet it’s so much more! It also contains sweet birch and eucalyptus, essential oils which have been reported to help stimulate and soothe an overworked body. I start my stretching ritual with these products because their relaxing effects put me in the right mindset to move!
Here are three of my favorite moves to get a good, deep stretch. The key is to move into each position slowly, and then try to hold each pose for at least 60 to 90 seconds. This gets your muscles used to holding that position, allowing the muscle fibers to start to lengthen. I really love this stretch sequence because it not only includes some deep stretches for the hips, it’s also a great way to gently twist the spine, which helps you align your whole body and is great for your posture.
1. SIMPLE LUNGE TWIST
Start with feet together. Step one leg back into a lunge. Place one hand on the ground and extend the other arm up to the sky.
2. LIZARD POSE TO DEEP QUAD TWIST STRETCH
From a lunge position, kneel down with your back leg. Bend the back leg upwards and reach your opposite arm around to grab the back foot.
3. DEEP LUNGE REACH TO LUNGE TWIST
Start in a lunge position. Reach arms up, keep the knees bent and arch back slightly. Bring hands together to chest and twist opposite elbow to opposite knee.
Rather than thinking of stretching as an optional ‘extra’ that you try to do after your workout (but usually skip), reframe it as an essential part of the workout itself. You’ll be amazed at how this small shift can help you maximize the benefits of your workouts!