Updated: Jan 19
So, when it comes to stretching, there are a couple of foundational concepts you have to be able to grasp and fully understand, in order to maximize the benefits of stretching.
IF you want to by-pass the full explanation, you can see the abbreviated video showing which stretches to do here at SISCOEGYM on INSTAGRAM
Now, there are different types of stretching, but we're going to focus on what's called “static stretching”. This is typically the type of stretching you would do at the end of a workout. Okay, in order to maximize static stretching, muscles need to learn to relax. Muscles need to learn that going into this new range of motion is…okay, and that you're not going to injure yourself.
You can see the full version of this stretching routine on the SISCOEGYM YOUTUBE channel here.
So, the idea of stretching is to relax into the stretch…Not to force yourself into a stretch.
Now, how you get the body to relax is focusing on the mind. If the mind relaxes it actually tells that body part that you're trying to stretch that we're okay in this range of motion…let's go let's go a little further. And understand stretching is a game of millimeters it is not a game of inches, and it is certainly not a game of feet, or meters.
We're trying to progressively increase your range of motion. So, we do that with a focus on breath. If your mind
is not kept busy while you're stretching, rest assured, THAT VOICE, yeah, “that voice” is going to tell you no,
no, no, stop, stop, stop this you can't do this. This is too hard! Just ignore that voice and THE WAY you ignore
that voice is to keep the mind focused on what it should be focused on. And that's going to be breath.
Now, let's go over breath very quickly. The way you want to breathe is you want to suck in as much air as you can but
not like you're gasping for air, rather, how long and slow can you draw air inward. Then how long can you actually pause, before you have to breathe out and then when you are ready to breathe out how slow can you blow or exhale
all the air out.
Then when all the air is out, how long can you comfortably pause for before you have to breathe in again? It's a process. And when you get really good at this, you'll find that you'll start taking one breath per minute! Fully inhaling…pausing, then fully exhaling and pausing.
You're going to try and do the following stretches, working on your breath, and we're going to go for a total of five breaths per stretch. So, to exaggerate my point; Here is kind of what you're going for, breathe in…super slow…pause your breathing, and then breathe out super slow and again pause before you breathe in again. It's really quite slow.
Now, if you try stretching too soon after a workout, you're not going to be able to relax. You cannot relax! That's just not going to happen.
So, we're going to start off this series of stretching;
Take a look here and we're going to start with just your legs. The first stretch in this series has you kneeling down with your foot up against the wall. Look at that knee placement because the closer you put that knee to the wall
the more intense that stretch is going to get so it's okay to place the knee further away from the wall if you're not there yet. Please understand you always need to earn the right to do something harder. Stretching is a game of millimeters. So find a place where you feel you can comfortably start. Now, if you look at how upright the torso is, the goal of this stretch is slowly and progressively trying to get your hip, also known as your butt, and your shoulders to go up against the wall. If and when that happens, you can then bring the knee back so you're closer to the wall.
Let's take a look at these two stretches in this one position and let's go through a series of five breaths while doing it. You'll notice through every exhale, I'm only moving millimeters…not trying to push it too hard and only moving on the exhale, for a total of five breaths.
So, as you can see from the first one, it's about pushing the butt and the shoulders into the wall but progressively increase that stretch on the exhale.
For the second stretch, the positioning is the same except now we're driving forward and again keeping the torso nice and tall, and always breathing out on the movement forward. Your exhale is where you increase the stretch. Do not
try to move when you're pausing or when you're breathing in. Only move on the exhale.
Let's take a look at the next stretch
The next stretch is called a “pancake stretch”. Some people are flexible enough to do this sitting flat on the floor. If you don't feel that flexible a yoga block would be good or a low-lying box or foot ottoman.
All right so here's what you're going to do. You're going to sit with your legs relatively wide open. What you're going for here quite simply is to again control your breath…it is so important. We're going for only five breaths and what we're looking to do is reach forward. Now if you're really tight, a good idea is to take something that's weighted and
place that out in front of you so it gives you something to help anchor your body and pull you further into the stretch.
From here, relaxing your body focusing your mind on breath because you need to keep your mind busy. If that voice pops up you need to remind it to go away and how you do that is just get your mind focused on breath.
Focus on breath is very important.
All right so here from here we're going to take a deep breath in, pause and on our exhale is when we increase. Remember the pause. Deep breath in, pause.
So, keep your mind focused on your breath not just in and out but also, we're going to go for more depth.
We want you to earn the progression to move forward but don't go so out of your comfort zone that you can't even control breath anymore. That just means you've gone too far. So, from that point of view, keep yourself in check
and make sure that you've earned the right to move forward.
Let's take a look at the next stretch; We've already done three sketches for the lower body so now what we're going to do is we're going to start focusing and working on the shoulder area which trust me almost all of us need some more of so, you can use a bench…again this could be an ottoman at home or it could be a couple of boxes depending where you are but anything approximately 16 inches in height will do.
One of the things that we want to do here is to make sure that your knees are actually behind your hip. We don't want your knees in front of the hip. We actually don't even want you directly under it we need your knees to be back because we're going to let gravity help us increase this stretch. Your hands are going to be placed on the bench but what you need to notice that it's not just the palm of your hands that are on the bench your wrists are going on the bench as well because we're not going to be really using the hands all that much.
We're going to go into a neutral position and we're going to start our very controlled breathing out…pause and only increase your stretch on the exhale. This stretch is trying to get your head and chest moving to the floor after your paws breathe in uh and slowly connect remember you're coming out of a range of motion whereby you were certainly beyond what you normally go into in terms of range of motion. So, you know, is it going to feel tight, sore and stiff when you come out of it? Yeah! But it'll quickly regain composure and you'll be good to go there's going to be one last stretch for your shoulders, so let's take a look at this last stretch.
I’m not going to lie, it's a bit of a doozy. But it's an awesome, awesome stretch. Now, I've mentioned several times along the way you need to earn the right to increase your range of motion and it's going to be very true here. Now, what we're trying to do simply is this; you're going to sit down with your knees bent but also with your hands behind your back AND as close together as you can keep your palms once you're there. Your hands never move throughout this entire range of motion. What is going to move are your hips, so pay close attention to that.
The first movement of your hip is going to be a little more dramatic in terms of covering distance than the rest. That first one just allows me to take a little bit more movement. So, let's go back to controlled breath and work our range of motion. Breathing in no there is movement…then pause…still no movement. Here I'm going to pick up my hip
and on the exhale, I'm going to move just my hip forward…the hands do not move!
Finish exhaling taking a pause, inhale and advance my feet a little bit and try to move my hip forward again. I'm sure you noticed that wasn't nearly as much movement as on the first one.
I've exhaled, I've paused. Now I'm breathing in. No movement…pausing…still no movement. Now I'm going to wiggle forward because I can't actually lift my hip anymore. I'm going to wiggle as far forward as I feel I can and then exhale
you're try and wiggle forward again. On my last one I'm not expecting much in the way of movement here.
Coming out of this stretch, rather than simply release because I feel it's a little bit too strenuous to go from an intense stretch like this to just immediate release so I recommend you do the following; Dig your fingernails into the floor
and drag with resistance, your hands slightly forward out of the stretch. I find this release is actually a lot less intense on the joints than if you just simply release from a stretched position.
All right. There you have it. Five stretches that I believe should be done at the end of every workout. But truly understand while you are stretching what you're really focusing on is breath.