Got 10 Min? Stretch!: A Strong & Flexy Stretching Routine
I have a chihuahua and his name is Gaucho. He is fast and nimble.
And every time he gets up from sitting or awakes from a nap, he immediately dives into a Downward Dog stretch with alternating leg extensions. After his deeeeeep stretch, he bops merrily along.
My uncle witnessed Gaucho’s regular stretching routine and said, “Wow, I should really take a note from him and stretch more often”. And I realized, Gaucho might be onto something.
I’ve never seen him get a cramp or pull a muscle after an impromptu sprint! I wish I could say the same about myself!
Us humans spend a lot of time sitting... interrupted only when we stand up to go to the bathroom or refill our glass of water or cup of coffee… and then we go back to sitting again. Even if we workout regularly, that one hour of moving can't outdo the other 23 hours of being stationary.
No wonder our hips hurt and backs ache! So today, we’re gonna follow Guru Gaucho’s advice and learn a 10 min stretch sequence we can pop into our daily routines.
This sequence can be done in the morning, before bed, in the middle of day – or at all three! Whenever you feel your shoulders caving forward, your back slouching, your neck straining forward, take 10 and move through this Stretching Sequence!
MOVE #1: Behind the Head Chest Stretch
Sit up or stand up straight. Bring hands behind your head and clasp them, elbows bent and beside your face.
Holding your hands behind your head, bring your elbows out 90 degrees, pointing out from the side of your body. Keep your rib cage tucked (i.e don't let it pop forward) and push your hands against the back of your head to get a deeper stretch.
Hold for 10 seconds. Let your hands relax and your elbows come forward as you relax for 10 seconds.
Then bring your elbows back and push you hands forward for another 10 seconds, deepening the stretch. Then release for 10 seconds.
UPGRADE: To upgrade this stretch, use the Synergee Yoga Ring. Place it behind your head, cradling the back of your head in the depressed section of the ring. Grasp either side of the ring with your hands and complete the chest stretch.
MOVE #2: Forward Bend
This movement can be performed sitting on the ground with legs extended or standing.
Keep straight back (shoulders back, rib cage tucked) and bend forward/down towards your toes. Only go as far forward/down as you can without compromising your flat back position.
Reach for your toes. If you can grab them, hold on and pull your body towards them. Hold for 10 seconds.
Release your flat back position at the end of the 10 seconds to “collapse” forward/down, then inhale as you slowly roll back to the starting position (sitting or standing).
UPGRADE: A Yoga Ring can be especially helpful for this movement if you can’t reach your toes.
When you reach down/forward, loop the yoga rings onto your feet to provide leverage and pull yourself into a deeper stretch.
MOVE #3: Downward Dog
This one is straight from Gaucho’s Example!
Start on all fours, stack your shoulders over your wrists, your knees should be hip distance apart. Walk your hands slightly forward and press your palms into the floor/mat.
Raise your knees and push your stomach toward your thighs. Lift your hips up as you straighten your legs. Don’t lock them out completely. And try to press your heels into the ground. Push your hips high and press your stomach to your thighs for a deep stretch.
Hold for 10 second. Come back to all fours for 10 seconds. Repeat.
UPGRADE: This movement can be hard to hop into!
Using the Synergee Yoga Chair can allow you to stretch deeply without getting a head rush from being inverted. The Yoga Chair will elevate your hands to relieve some of the weight and pressure too, so you can enjoy the stretch more.
Place your hands on the wooden legs of the Yoga chair and begin in a plank position. Get into the Down Dog position by bringing your hips up and stomach to thighs.
Move #4: Neck Stretch
Stand up or sit up straight. Take your left hand, bring it over your head to gently hold the right side of your head. Bring your left ear to your left shoulder.
Simultaneously – and GENTLY – pull your head towards your shoulder with your hand, while you resist with your neck and head – AGAIN, GENTLY! Hold for 10 seconds. Release and come back to neutral.
When you are ready, perform the movement with the opposite hand/ear/shoulder. Hold for 10 seconds.
Rest 10 seconds. Repeat.
UPGRADE: To get an extra good stretch, extend the arm that is not being used and splay your fingers so you are reaching out with your thumb and pinky.
For example, if your left hand is pulling on the right side of your head, extend your right arm out to your side and splay your fingers.
REPEAT THE SEQUENCE
Go through this sequence once more. Aim to make each stretch a little deeper than the first time through. And it is as easy as that!
Making this stretching sequence a habit can help with your posture, relieve stiff muscles, and it will also make Gaucho proud!!