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Stretch Away Aches and Pains

Beat Stress in 10 Minutes

By Cathy Moxley

In this article:

  • Beat Stress in 10 Minutes
  • Upper Body SOS
  • Lower Body Rx
  • Printable Stretch PDF

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Hunching over the computer. Carrying a two-year-old on your hip while a 20-pound diaper bag is slung over the other shoulder. Making the top bunk bed (my favorite). A mom's daily life can involve a lot of moving and straining that causes muscle tightness and pain. And don't forget stress — one of the biggest culprits behind tight, achy muscles! But relax, because a simple stretching routine will go a long way to ease the movements of everyday life.

Stretching increases your flexibility, elongating the muscles and bringing increased circulation to tired muscles. Another benefit of stretching? Loose, limber muscles are less likely to be injured should they be accidentally stretched too far. Let's say you were to take a tumble tripping over toys or your heel unexpectedly slips off a curb while chatting with a neighbor. Regular stretching will help you bounce right back afterwards. And stretching feels good too! You don't necessarily need to be in exercise clothes. In fact, there are simple stretches that you can do anywhere, anytime.

Let's start with a few general tips:

  • Ease into each stretch gently until the point of mild tension — not pain and then hold that position for 15-30 seconds.
  • Don't bounce when you stretch. You'll want to slowly stretch like taffy, not quickly stretch like a rubber band. The taffy stays extended while the rubber band bounces right back.
  • Muscles get the most benefit from stretching after they have been warmed-up — literally. An increase in body temperature from 3-5 minutes of light movement (such as walking) helps the muscles stretch more effectively. That's the way it's done as part of an exercise session, however, you can do these stretches at anytime, without warming-up first, and you'll still benefit.
  • How often should you stretch? It's great to give your muscles this kind of attention at least three times a week, and there's no harm in doing them every day.

Now, on to the stretches. Let's look at eight movements that will cover all the bases. Do one or do them all. You can select only the body areas that cause you the most distress or complete each stretch for a full-body flexibility boost. The choice is yours!

Get the Printable Guide for these stretches.


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