The Best Stretches You AREN’T Doing
We all have our favorite stretches-or ones that suck less. Try these 4 big-bang-for-your-buck stretches.
There are so many things that we have to do each day. Our to-do lists just keep mounting while it seems like our ability to keep up seems to be diminishing. We all know we need to exercise. We know we could use some work on our flexibility/mobility. As a personal fitness coach, my job is to make the biggest, most beneficial impact on the healthy lifestyle of my clients in the very short time that I see them each week. Recently, there’s been a lot of press and attention given to specific stretches, like stretching out our hip flexors. That’s super important and I recommend it. However, this post is about the best stretches that are HUGELY important but that you probably don’t know about, and better yet, that will pay HUGE dividends for your health.
#1 Best Stretch: Neck Extension
Your head weighs in around 10-15 lbs. That’s a bowling ball people! Now hold that heavy weight precariously out over your spine by a little tiny structure of your neck. It’s NOT meant to hold that noggin of yours in that position. In fact, this condition is being called ‘Text Neck‘, and is being associated with many different maladies. I called in an expert in the neck for this, chiropractor Dr. Mike Frogley from Generational Healthcare to help us all understand what’s going on and why it’s important.
Check out how to do the stretch below.
#2 Best Stretch: Back Extension
We spend SO much time hunched over-whether at a desk, plane, car or reading a book or watching TV. This stretch will take you the opposite way-which will feel pretty darn good. Try this stretch for 1-2 mins at a time and you’ll be amazed at how you will feel.
#3 Best Stretch: Toe Extensor
Due to the nature of us walking uprightly. Few things will make you hate life completely, and that’s foot pain or maladies, because you use them ALL THE TIME! Every time you step, walk or even wiggle your toes can cause extreme discomfort and crabbiness. We also subscribe to the philosophy that our body is a kinetic chain, meaning that what affects one joint will affect the surrounding (above or below, or both) joints. So if your feet hate you, chances are that your knees or back will start hating you. This simple stretch as you will see, can really help fix a lot of different issues.
#4 Ankle Mobility
As we age our ankles get tighter. Less mobile ankles affect us all the way up the body (kinetic chain), from our gait (walking) to our ability to sit down or get up. Also tighter structures may be at risk of injury during sport/competition if they lack the range of motion required. For all these reasons, we need to take better care of our ankles. This is one I like to use because it’s quick, easy and doesn’t require special equipment.
- Put your toes up against a wall, and make sure your heel has some weight through it-you don’t want it to slide out.
- Push your knee straight forward into the wall until you feel mild tension.
- Do controlled movements in and out. Do about 10 reps or until you feel some changes in your mobility.
- You can also push the knee towards the wall at an angle-like dipping your knee inside the big toe. Conversely, you can also take it to the wall outside of the pinky toe.
Once again, this is not an exhaustive list of the best stretches you should be doing. I selected them based upon their ease in doing, relative novelty (not as popular or well-known as something like a hip flexor stretch), and the bang for the buck you get in health restoration, posture improvements and range of motion increases. Give them a try!