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