I’m 26 years old and someone you could consider relatively fit and healthy. I am not a gym junkie, but I have kickboxing classes twice a week and a 20-minute bike ride every day to go to work (one of the perks of living in Amsterdam!). My lack of flexibility had always bothered me but frankly, stretching just seemed like a waste of time. Nonetheless, I decided to take on the 30 days of stretching challenge to see what it had to offer. Here’s what happened.
Improve your flexibility with daily stretching.
This is the obvious one. What’s great about flexibility is that it can always improve, no matter what age you are. Stretching increases blood and fluid circulation to the tendons, which carries essential nutrients to all of our fibers, our muscles included.
What stretches did I do?
I focused on how I was feeling that day. Usually, my lower body was the stiffest so I focused my stretching exercises on hips, hamstrings and lower back and did a bunch of different exercises that I fancied doing that day. The important thing wasn’t what exercises I was doing but that I was actually doing 10 minutes of stretching every day.
When did I stretch?
I’m not gonna lie, it was difficult to build the habit. I had to put an alarm on my phone to not forget. I made sure it was at a time I wasn’t doing anything important so I had no excuse not to stretch: either early in the morning before going to work, or late at night before going to bed. I’d even do it both times during the last week and a half!
What difference did it make?
I could feel a difference right after my first 10 minutes: I was deeply relaxed, almost high. My muscles were tingling and I felt good throughout my entire body. I had finally released all the tension or stiffness in my body.
I started feeling the long-term benefits after about two weeks of daily stretching: I had more energy in the morning, my back didn’t hurt anymore, my overall flexibility improved and my high kicks were getting higher and higher.
My posture also improved considerably. I sit straighter at work and move with more ease.
While the 10-minute stretch helped me wake up in the morning, it also helped me relax and sleep better at night.
This challenge made me more aware of my body and more grateful for it too. It provided benefits not only to my body but to my mind as well. I had to take time for myself. Daily stretching coupled with mindfulness was the greatest self-care experience I had in a long time.
I recommend this to absolutely everyone. 10 minutes a day can change your life for the better. Even though the challenge is now over, I will keep on stretching every day because 1) it makes me feel good and 2) there’s always room for improvement. Now that I can touch my toes easily, I want to be able to do a full front split!