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The 7 Simple Stretches That Will Kickstart Your Day

And it will only take 15 to 20 minutes — tops!

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photo collage of woman doing different stretches, at home stretches, exercise, workout
Photographs by Bee Trofort-Wilson (Wardrobe Stylist: Bailey Harrs; Hair Stylist: Rachel Reid; Makeup Artist: Danielle Mitchell)
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Everyone knows regular exercise is essential to maintaining our physical health and well-being, but few understand the importance of stretching. As we age, we lose muscle strength and bone density while our tendons get stiffer and our joints weaken. This leads to a lack of balance and flexibility and increases our chances of falls or injuries. These physiological changes can cause chronic aches and pains in our neck, shoulders, back and hips. If you’re like me, you might hold your stress in different areas of your body, causing muscle tension and tightness in your neck, back, and shoulders. Whether we are sore from natural degeneration, overexertion, lack of mobility or the effects of stress, incorporating a daily stretching routine might be the most beneficial step to prevent future physical limitations and slow down these aging symptoms.

Daily stretching will boost our blood flow and circulation, strengthen our joints and muscles and increase our range of motion and coordination. Stretching will also relieve our tight tendons, constricted muscles and joint stiffness, which all worsen as we age. Maintaining balance, mobility, strength and flexibility is essential to performing our day-to-day tasks and living an active lifestyle.

Depending on your physical abilities, you can experiment with more advanced stretches. For those who are not super flexible or athletic, a simple and basic stretching routine is the way to go. You don’t need to go to a gym or use exercise equipment for the following stretches — just a sturdy chair and 15-20 minutes to complete this easy routine. Just follow these five guidelines to ensure your safety and success:

1. Always do a light warm-up before you start stretching.

2. Don't force any stretches or push to the point of pain.

3. Don't lock your joints during any stretches.

4. Breathe through your stretches, don't hold your breath.

5. Don't do ballistic stretches where you bounce or jerk.


Neck Stretch

Stand or sit upright. Slowly bring your head down until your chin touches your chest.

While in this position, slowly turn your head to the right and hold for 10 seconds.

Then, slowly turn your head back to the center while your chin still touches your chest.

Then, slowly turn your head to the left and hold for 10 seconds.

Repeat three times. 


Back, Shoulder & Chest Stretch

Stand straight and let your arms hang to your side.

Slowly bring your arms behind your lower backside (bottom) and clasp your hands together.

Gradually raise your arms toward your mid-back area while your shoulders pull back and your chest expands.

Hold your head high.

Hold this position for 10-20 seconds.

Repeat three times.


Front Shoulder & Shoulder Blade Stretch

Stand upright while your arms hang down on each side of your body.

Lift your right arm and slowly cross it over your chest.

Hook your left hand around your right elbow and gently pull toward your body.

Hold for 15-20 seconds.

Bring your right arm back to your side.

Repeat the same stretch with the left arm.

Repeat each side three times.


Side Stretch

Stand upright with your feet shoulder length apart.

Put your hands on your hips.

Slowly reach your right arm above your head and over to the left until you make a C shape with your body.

Hold that position for 10-15 seconds.

Return to the center position and repeat the same stretch on the other side.

Repeat each side three times.


Back Twist

Sit upright on a chair, knees at a 90-degree angle.

Take a deep breath while raising your hands upward over your head, clasp your hands, then hold for 5 seconds.

Exhale slowly and gently twist your upper body to the right while placing your left hand on the outside of your right knee. (Let your right hand fall anywhere to the side.)

Press your left hand against your right knee to twist further, turning in the same direction.

Hold for 10-15 seconds.

Release and return to the center position.

Repeat the same stretch, twisting to the left side.

Repeat each side three times.


Lower Back Stretch

Stand in front of your chair with your legs hip-length apart, knees not locked but slightly bent.

Slowly bend down with your back flat, reaching your arms forward and placing them on the chair.

Your arms should align with your back, and your hips should align with your ankles as your body forms a 90-degree angle.

Lean your weight back slightly to extend the stretch and hold for 10-15 seconds.

Slowly return to a standing position.

Repeat three times.


Simple Hamstring Stretch

Stand a few feet away from your chair. (Place another chair by your side to hold for balance if needed.)

Place your right heel on the chair with your toes pointing upward.

Slowly bend at the hip with your back flat until you feel a comfortable stretch.

Hold for 10 seconds.

Bring your leg back to a standing position.

Repeat the same stretch with your left leg.

Repeat each leg stretch three times.

How many of you stretch each day? What stretch is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.

Follow Article Topics: Health