Stretching offers numerous health benefits, unfortunately, most people either don't stretch correctly, long enough or skip it all together. The most neglected component of fitness is stretching and for those who are the most tight, stretching is usually such an uncomfortable experience that they avoid it all costs.
After working in the fitness industry and training clients for over 20 years, I have a system that has even our most rigid, tight, "can't touch their toes" clients, enjoying their stretching segments. We've found that if we can make a stretch comfortable enough that a client doesn't even realize they're stretching, they will often hold it long enough to allow the muscles to lengthen.
For this reason, we've found wall-stretches to be most successful at increasing the enjoyment of the stretching segment. While our clients are stretching, their back is in its neutral position which is very comfortable. They don't have to use any of their muscles to support their back. They can instead just relax and focus into the stretch. They can also read or watch T.V. in this position which will increase the amount of time they hold any stretch for. Our clients find these stretching segments so enjoyable that they hold the stretches longer than they ever have before and are now stretching everyday. They would have never dreamed of stretching this much before!
Here are some sample wall-stretches:
Hamstring: Lie on your back with your legs against the wall with your heels towards the ceiling. Find a position where you can feel a light stretch in the back of your thighs. To make the stretch more intense, move your buttocks closer to the wall. To make the stretch less intense, move your buttocks further from the wall. Hold this stretch for as long as you feel comfortable. Try to relax and breathe in to the stretch. Feel free to read a magazine or watch T.V. while holding this stretch.
Hips and Back: Start with your legs in the hamstring stretch position. Now slowly let both legs fall to one side until they are resting comfortably on the floor (if you’re tight, it’s okay to have the legs suspended above the floor also). Try to feel this stretch through your hips and lightly through your back.
Adductors: Start with your legs in the hamstring stretch position. Now slowly separate your legs into a V-position until you feel a light stretch through your groin area.
Glutes: Move yourself back about one foot away from the wall. Position one leg so that the bottom of the foot is in contact with the wall and the knee is at 90 degrees. Cross the other leg over so that the ankle is resting on the thigh. To make the stretch less intense, move your buttocks further from the wall. To make the stretch more intense, move your buttocks closer to the wall or lightly press the crossed leg away.
Remember to hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds. This is when the real stretching actually begins and also remember that light stretching is much better than deep, painful stretching!
Try it out and let me know what you think.
Yours in health and fitness,