2017-01-19T04:01:22+00:00 July 31st, 2014/Challenges/By /

Challenges: 30 Day Challenge #4: Stretching

STRETCH

Previous 30 Day Challenges

  1. Meditation
  2. Daily Gratitude
  3. Drink More Water

I’m about to wrap up last month’s 30-day challenge: drinking more water. I’ve never drunk more water in a single month than I did during this one.

How do I feel after the challenge? More energetic. I’m also able to think more clearly. Whenever I’m feeling stressed, my go-to routine is to take a walk, drink a glass of water, and meditate for five minutes.

The main downside of the challenge is that I have to use the restroom pretty much every hour. Overtime, however, your bladder will get used to it, and you will be able to hold more liquid.

Let’s get ready for August’s challenge! I want to continue the theme of improving your health. If you’re a “computer guy or gal” (which I’m sure most of you are), then you need to do the stretching challenge.

Why Stretch?

My posture has gotten worse over the years.

Let’s just say that sitting in front of the computer for long periods of time, year after year, isn’t good for your body. Our ancestors spent much of their days outdoors, hunting, farming, and being much more active than we are. These days, most of our activities are sedentary: we work, commute, and even play sitting down.

I don’t want to have back pain when I’m older, nor do I want to start looking like Quasimodo. I thought that working out would be enough to help my back, but it’s not. Remember that the gym is only one hour, but we’re in the sitting position for most of the day.

One of the easiest ways to counteract our inactive lifestyle is to start a daily stretching routine.

Besides improving posture, here are some other reasons why I stretch:

  1. Better circulation. It provides more efficient blood flow throughout the body.
  2. More energy and lower stress. After a stretching session, I feel like I have more energy.
  3. Injury prevention. Better flexibility will help me prevent injuries while performing exercises such as squats, deadlifts, and overhead presses.
  4. Stronger willpower. As beneficial as stretching is, it can be boring. There are plenty of other things you could do with those 15 minutes. The temptation to avoid stretching helps me be more disciplined. I might not want to do it, but I know I should. When you commit to these types of activities, you are training your willpower muscles.
  5. It feels good.

P.S. I have been using a standing desk for the past six months. I will write a post on that in the future.

When to Stretch

I stretch after a workout since it increases my flexibility the most. It’s best to do static stretching after a workout, not before it.

To warm up before a workout, I like to do dynamic stretches – stretching while moving. For example: on a leg day, I warm up by doing some body squats and lunges.

You can incorporate stretching into your morning routine. I already run for half an hour in the morning, so I think adding the stretches would take up too much time.

Which Stretching Routine Should You Do?

starting-stretching-cheatsheet
I discovered a great routine at Reddit called Starting Stretch. I find it hits a lot of the body parts that need work such as my hips, shoulders, hamstrings, and my back. I like to keep it simple and follow an established routine.

The routine only takes 12-15 minutes, which is a reasonable time commitment.

For the first exercise, I hang from the pull-up bar for a minute. After that’s complete, I head to the stretching mat area of my gym. I can do the rest of the exercises there.

I start a stopwatch, and after each minute, I switch positions.

On my off-days, when I’m not working out, I increase the time for the stretching routine to make each exercise two minutes long.

Action

  1. Go to the Starting Stretch website for a more detailed explanation of the routine and its variations.
  2. Pick a trigger. This is what reminds you to start the routine. My trigger is the end of my workout at the gym. If you want to do it at a specific time of day, set an alarm to remind yourself of the activity. When it’s time to start stretching, immediately get into the routine. If you wait for too long, you’ll get distracted, or you’ll talk yourself out of it.
  3. Routine. Do the Starting Stretch routine. Use a stopwatch to keep the time.
  4. Reward. After the stretching is done, I like to lie down and relax. My reward is having the satisfaction of completing the challenge, knowing that I did something good for my body, and experiencing that nice post-stretch feeling.