Building a stretch routine can be vital to improving the quality of our lives. It could be the difference between feeling good, or living in discomfort. Stretching once or twice a week may temporarily help us get through the day, but to experience lasting change It is important to develop a consistent routine to perform successfully that specifically targets muscles in need of attention. Think of stretching similar to eating vegetables. You can’t expect to see the benefits of eating vegetables when you only eat them once.
So, how do we build a routine for ourselves? While it’s best to seek out a stretching professional to get you going, it is possible to achieve some level of success by using the “Assess, stretch, reassess” method.
First we need to assess the range of motion in our joints. Start with an area that is giving you the most trouble. This could be as simple as standing up straight, raising your arm over your head one at a time and checking the mobility of your shoulder joints. How did it feel? Was one arm able to go much higher than the other? Did anything feel jammed up or did you need to use extra strength to raise it? Maybe one side feels like you were compensating in other areas of the body to make up for the lack of movement. Make note of these things, write them down or record them on your phone.
Next, stretch the muscles surrounding the joint to see which ones feel tight or restricted. Are the muscles in your upper back really tight, and therefore causing restrictions in your shoulder? Make a note.
Finally, we need to reassess the range of motion of the joint in order to see if what we did actually helped. Did range of motion improve, does it feel lighter, or do you have movement that you never had before? Try to follow these steps for all of the areas of your body such as the hips, ankles, lower back, etc. Where is your movement most restricted? Write down the stretches that you feel helped, and set aside the ones that didn’t.
You may find certain parts of your body perhaps don’t need to be stretched, while other parts are in dire need. To summarize, develop a routine, be specific about muscle groups, asses, stretch and reassess.