Stretching each morning can be very beneficial to your health in many ways. It increases blood circulation giving you more energy throughout the day, and helps strengthen your muscles and increase flexibility. Stretching will also help prevent injuries. Stretching each morning is easy, fun and is essential for everyone: from the best trained athletes to those who have never worked out. We all have something to gain from the benefits of stretching, so what are you waiting for? Let’s get started!
I’m going to challenge you to set your alarm clock about 15 minutes earlier each morning to try this morning stretch routine. I like to incorporate the use of the Total Gym with my stretches because 1) having rather tight muscles, using the Total Gym helps me maintain correct form, and 2) it allows for more intense stretches through the design of the gravity-driven resistance of the glide board.
Lower Back and Hamstring Stretch
The forward bend stretch is much better performed using the Total Gym. Based on your flexibility, you can start this stretch by placing your hands at the bottom of the glide board (if you are more flexible) or at the top of the glide board (if you are less flexible). Since I’m moderately flexible, I started my stretch by placing my hands in the middle of the glide board. I then slide my way to an upward facing dog-style stretch. The use of the glide board allows this stretch to be performed the correct way from someone who has fairly tight hamstrings and back!
Hip Flexor / Quad Stretch
The hip flexor stretch can be performed by placing one leg on the glide board and the other to the side so the front knee is comfortably above the the ankle. The inclined angle allows my back leg to stay lifted, reducing unnecessary strain on my knees. To maximize the stretch, I’ll push my hips toward the front until I feel the right level resistance on my hip flexor. I can add a quadriceps stretch by lifting by back foot up and grabbing it with my hand and pulling it gently toward my hamstring.
Groin / Inner Thigh Stretch
The groin is a key muscle group used especially in sports that require lateral movements, such as ice hockey. Throughout my hockey career, this has always been a targeted stretch as groin injuries are very common in the sport and are difficult to recover from. However, groin injuries are not specific to only hockey, so I’ve added this stretch to the routine. Start by placing your knee towards the lower part of the glide board, and place your hands on the glide board to support the movement. Then extend your outside leg to activate the groin stretch. You can control the stretch entirely with your arms and legs to avoid too much pressure on the groin.
Figure 4 / Outer Thigh Stretch
The Figure 4 / outer thigh stretch can be performed better on the Total Gym than on the ground because you can easily lower yourself into the stretch while on the glide board, instead of manually forcing your leg up towards your chest if you were performing this on the ground. Start the Figure 4 stretch by placing one leg across the other so your ankle is above your other knee. Lightly press your lifted knee down while keeing your back straight and chest up. Lower yourself down until you find a comfortable level of resistance without losing your form.
Upper / Lower Back Stretch
The Total Gym can also provide excellent upper body stretches. This upper / lower back stretch feels great and the Total Gym offers resistance by design. It’s like having my own personal trainer pulling me during the stretch! I start by kneeling on the glide board facing the tower. I’ll then grab the tower with both hands and will sit back while lowering my chest and head. I can feel this stretch throughout my entire back.
Sitting on the side of the glide board and grabbing the tower with both arms provides a nice shoulder stretch. You can start the stretch by placing both feet on the ground, then lift your feet to allow your weight to add resistance to the stretch. For an added challenge, you can kneel on the glide board and the stretch in your shoulders will extend thoughout your core!
For a chest stretch that feels great, just sit on the glide board and reach back to grab the tower with one arm. The other arm can be placed across your body to keep your legs from sliding. The Total Gym’s design will allow your own body weight to provide the correct resistance in the stretch. It’s a simple stretch that feels awesome!
Good luck with executing this stretch routine! You can try variations to the routine as you become accustomed to the stretches. The key is to stretch at least 15 minutes each morning before you take on your work day, go to practice, or before you perform more intense strength training or cardio workouts!