fbpx

How to Start Stretching for Beginners

WeStretch is the best starting place for stretching for beginners.

What is stretching?

According to Wikipedia,

“Stretching is a form of physical exercise in which a specific muscle or tendon (or muscle group) is deliberately flexed or stretched in order to improve the muscle's felt elasticity and achieve comfortable muscle tone. The result is a feeling of increased muscle control, flexibility, and range of motion.”

 

Basically, stretching is lengthening your muscles to increase your mobility and overall well-being. At WeStretch, we have also noticed that regularly stretching is mentally and physically restorative, and it regularly improves balance and basic muscle strength in people of all ages.

A few things to note that when starting is that WeStretch offers different approach to exercise.

1.      Your routines will not have the same stretch done on both sides. Karen, our founder, didn’t want to be bored with her exercise routines.

After all, when you shoulder check while driving, you don’t immediately look over your other shoulder to “balance out,” right? This is physiotherapist approved, especially since your opposite joint will be stretched out in your next session.

2.      Often, our poses are only done for short hold times, especially when first starting out. This prevents injury from holding a stretch too long and still activates that series of tight muscles. In many of our routines, you’ll repeat the same pose a few times, which is how you increase your range of motion.

3.      When you first start stretching, it will feel too easy. WeStretch intentionally starts you off with easy movements to reduce the risk of injuries, especially if you’re not used to strenuous activity. That being said, even the “easy” stretches are beneficial and will help to increase your flexibility and improve your balance.

 

Maria demonstrating a seated twist.

 

Examples of easy stretches for beginners

The beauty of these stretches is that most of them can be done while seated or with support, if needed. Hold each of these poses for the count of three, switch sides, and repeat five times. Follow along while you’re reading this article for a great physical reset. (As always, if you feel any pain, stop immediately and see a medical professional.)

  • Tilt your ear towards your shoulder.
  • Look down at your belly, then look up above you.
  • Bring your arms out to the side to form a ‘t’-shape, then bring them above your head.
  • Pull your arm across your chest, using your other arm to support and increase the tension.
  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and bring your hips side to side.
  • Circle your wrists.
  • Circle your ankles.
  • Bend over and reach to touch your toes, only going as far as you can safely.

 

Looking for more? The WeStretch app has over 5,000 different poses to get every joint moving in every direction safely!

The benefits of stretching

-         Increased flexibility and range of motion

-         Improved circulation

-         Better balance

-         Reduced pain

-         Prevents injuries

-         Increased functional strength

-         Helps you to age gracefully

-         Improved athletic performance

Liette extending her arms above her head and tilting her head to the side.

 

How to get stretching

Wear clothing that you can easily move in.

You can wear loose-fitting jeans, a sweat suit, yoga clothes, or even pyjamas if you like. You want to be able to move freely, without the fabric hindering your movements. Take into account, too, that the longer you move for, the warmer your body will be, so wear clothes that you won’t overheat in.

Find enough room that you can move freely

While yoga mats are usually the perfect size for stretching, you don’t need one to be successful. Find a location that you can spread out completely, either standing or lying down. You can stretch outside in the grass or on your carpet as you watch a movie. Find a place that you enjoy exercising in to make the most of WeStretch.

Make a plan

Stretching works best when it is done consistently, so create a plan as you start out.

What are your fitness goals? Can you challenge anyone to hold you accountable? When can you fit daily stretching into your schedule? You don’t have to spend hours on planning, but taking a moment to think about what you really want can help you to achieve your smart goals.

Ada standing with her feet hip width apart, with her arms raised together and above her head.

 

Additional information about stretching routines for beginners

Who should stretch?

The simple answer is everyone should.

When you’re young, it helps you to prevent injuries from playing and it builds a healthy foundation as you age. As you join the workforce, it maintains mobility and reduces workplace-related pain. Seniors need to stretch to prevent falling and to help them remain independent.

WeStretch is beneficial to everyone, from the world-class Irish dancers, to the sedentary couch potatoes, to office workers with cerebral palsy. Everyone can use regular physical activity in their lives. When you're new to exercise, WeStretch is the best place to start stretching for beginners.

 

Different types of stretching exercises

WeStretch focuses on a combination of static and dynamic movements to provide the most benefit to your body. If you would like to learn more than a brief summary and about additional stretching styles, check out our post here.

Static stretching

Static stretching is simply where you hold a position. You aren’t swinging, bouncing, or doing any movement, rather continuously applying pressure to your elongated muscle. An example would be touching your toes.

Dynamic stretching

Dynamic stretches are poses with flowing movements. This works your joint through the full range of motion, without injury. An example would be circling your arms forward or backward.

Ballistic stretching

Ballistic movement is a type of movement to be done with extreme caution. This is where you are bouncing in a position. It is dangerous because it allows you to bypass your body’s natural safeguards against injury that normally activate with dynamic and static poses. If you would like to learn more about performing ballistic stretching, check out our article about it here.

 

Learn what a WeStretch routine looks like

If you are a reader, check out our post explaining what our fundamental stretching routine looks like. Want a more hands-on option? Sign up for a free exercise routine a day with our new web app or download the WeStretch app on the Apple Store or Google Play! Any way, WeStretch is the best guide to stretching for beginners!

 

Ada is stretching her arm and shoulder by pulling it across her body.

 

WeStretch: Movement for Life

 

Any links included are for reference, additional information, or entertainment value only, without monetary compensation. Contact us on social media or at team@westretch.ca. Photos courtesy of Unsplash.

This article is not intended to act as or replace medical advice. Please talk to your health care practitioner if you have any concerns.

 

Written by Kayla Willsey

Updated September 9, 2021