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15 Ways To Have Fun Stretching-Get Your Happy Back

How-to-have-fun-stretching

Stretching is like running, the more you do it, the more enjoyable it feels (or so I hear- I generally only run when late for a bus!) Anyway the point is- to be good at it, like most things you have to do it, well, every day. Hurrah! Ok, I know, I know, that’s probably not your go to response, it doesn’t exactly overload the fun-ometer. But it can!

So let’s look at some ways we can make it put a spring in your step, rather than have you running for the hills. Here are your 15 top tips to have fun stretching.

1. Let the good tunes roll:

You’ve probably noticed that if you’re just staring at a clock while you stretch or counting, time seems to move painfully sloooooooowly. This makes it difficult to have fun stretching. So forget about clock watching, tell yourself your gonna stretch for the length of two verses and choruses and get singing along to your favourite tunes. Not only is it WAY more enjoyable, but it gives your brain something else to focus on.

2. Replace Netflix and chill:

Let your downtime become Netflix and stretch. Stretching whilst watching your favourite shows is a sure-fire way to not only make sure you enjoy it SO much more, but you’ll find that it will starts to become habit. The gains will soon start to pay off as you see improvement and with only so many hours in the day, surely it makes sense for a gal to multitask right?

3. Take photo challenges with your besties.

Have-fun-stretching-with-friendsYou can even do boomerangs, go nuts. This is a really fun way to get creative and get yourself outside the studio. After all, the same 4 walls can make us all a little crazy once in a while, so go have an adventure!

For some extra inspiration check out Jordan Matter, he takes BEAUtiful photos, so when it comes to inspiration he’s king. Check out this one below:

4. Let YouTube be your instructor!

Ever noticed how it’s so much easier to do stuff in class when you have a teacher talking you through it and one thing seems to flow seamlessly into the next? Well, enter YouTube, your at home teacher. Millions of people upload their content to YouTube. Not only does this mean you can switch up your stretching routine every single day, but you can also get inspiration and motivation from a lot of different dancers.

5. Channel your inner Monica (yes I am talking Friends.)

Make a list of your goals. That’s right, you’ve caught me, I’m a list person. But I stand my ground. Without a focus, our progress can just drift and then disintegrate. A list can help you keep on top of where you’re going and why. And yes, it is also nice to have that little rush as you tick off something extra off the list.

6. Document your progress.

Measure-your-progress-to-have-fun-stretchingTake photos as you improve. This will spur you on and is a good way to check that what you’re doing is working.

7. Reward yourself with a treat afterwards.

Make sure it’s something that will make you feel good about yourself, so whether it’s naughty (finally having that chocolate bar) or nice (catching up with a friend,) give yourself something to spur you towards the finish line.

8. Don’t make every day about gains.

Have a shorter stretching routine for some days so you can be kind to yourself and allow wiggle room for life. And then some kick ass longer stretching routines where you can strive for progress. To have fun stretching, think of it like pick ‘n’ mix. By mixing things up, you get the best of both and it allows for the busy bees that us performers are.

9. Invest in a yoga class once a week.

Use-yoga-class-to-make-stretching-funChanging the focus to restorative movement once a week will not only teach your body a new way to be with the stretch, but also help you start to learn to quiet your mind. If your mind is anything like mine-a chatterbox- then yoga is stretching’s equivalent to a cup of tea. Aah much better.

10. Do it more!

As I said at the start of this post, the more you do it the more malleable your body becomes and it will start to feel easier. So if you want to feel less like an ironing boards and more like a cheese string, think little and often.

11. Stretch with a friend.

Assisted stretching is great as not only can you have more help and use each other’s body weight, but you can have a good old chinwag at the same time! Or even if you’re quiet, sometimes it’s just just nice to have the company.

12. Have one day a week where you let yourself off.

Go-have-funThat’s right, if we want to make something sustainable we have to allow a day of breathing space. One day a week may actually help your goals as it gives your body a break, and your sanity too! That way you’re less likely to avoid overwhelm and have fun stretching when you get back to it. It’s also good for your own sense of happy, so don’t let yourself get jaded, go have some fun!

13. Chill with a tennis ball.

For everyone going, ‘huh?’ round about now, I am of course talking about myofascial release. Because we hold a lot of tension in our bodies, by applying pressure using a tennis ball or the like and learning to self massage myofascial trigger points you can find yourself suddenly a lot more flexible without even having stretched. So find a way to incorporate this 2 or 3 times a week to compensate with the stresses and strains of dancing.

14. Book a massage.

Once a month if you can. This is probably the easiest one to want to check off the list. Don’t worry, I understand massages can be super costly, I mean who can afford the going rates right? But at a lot of colleges, 3rd year students have to complete a certain number of assessment hours before they can graduate, and so they offer these sessions to the general public at a vastly discounted rate. And don’t worry, they are still completely safe, as the practitioners are fully trained. I once booked an hour long session at a college for £10 and it is still my best massage to date! So be kind to yourself.

15. Stretch out after class.

Stretch-out-after-classDon’t miss what I like to call the golden stretching window. Not only is it important as a cool down after exercise, but when we’ve worked out hard, our body is fluid and malleable. So don’t miss this chance to make things easier on yourself and embrace the new bendy you. And as an added bonus you now don’t have to do it later!

Happy stretching!

16 Comments

  • Ionut

    Hi, Natalie,

    So nice tips here on how to have fun while stretching!

    It’s imperative to find ways receiving pleasure while doing things that need to be done in our lives. It makes the process go seamlessly and it helps us to finally and actually do those things!

    I guess I am one of those who are for rewarding yourself periodically with a chocolate bar (yes, I am a sweet tooth 🙂

    My wife is often stretching while listening to her favorite TV shows and movies, so I agree that this is for sure one of the great ways to include into your stretching routine.

    Thank you for putting these tips together, they are awesome!

  • Glenn

    Natalie, Great tips on stretching. I do not normally stretch but would like to be more flexible, so your tips are a great start. I have very little me time, so perhaps while my son is watching a television show or listening to music I can start to stretch and create some me time. Like most things flexibility is cumulative, the first step is starting and your tips will help. Thanks!

    • Natalie

      Hi glen, yes absolutely- your efforts add up over time. Even if you can’t commit to it daily, doing it as little as 3 times a week will definitely help. Stretching is great even for non dancers because it just helps us maintain our facility in everyday life, and keep it at its optimum. Glad it’s inspired you to have some me time, that is always a good thing 🙂

  • jude

    Thank you for sharing such great tips. A very uplifting and motivational post with great ideas on how to incorporate more stretching in our life.
    I have to say I could do with some more stretching for sure. When I was younger I practised gymnastics and my life was filled with al lot of stretching and I enjoyed it.

    Nowadays not so much anymore, but getting older I can feel I should stretch more.
    Thank you for this great list, I will most definitely try to incorporate some of your tips in to may daily lifestyle.

    Best wishes for 2020,
    Jude

  • Kerry

    Great article Natalie, your first line reeled me in as I am an avid runner in my spare time. It’s interesting how much these two activities can overlap – something that surprised me as much is it did you probably.

    As for your list, I can closely relate to a slew of them. Especially #s 1) I always need my music along with me for a run, and #8) many days we gain, but some days we just need to “maintain” and that itself is the victory.

    #15 is a hot topic in our running circles, as some folks are bound and determined that they need to stretch things out before their runs. Dire warnings about stretching cold muscles and joints fall unheard, while others of us follow your advice above.

    Thanks for sharing this info,

    • Natalie

      Hi Kerry,

      I agree completely, stretching is just essential to so many sports isn’t it? Glad that you related to some of these. I think every athlete has their own routine and knows what works for them, it sounds like you’ve really found yours which is great!

      I can understand the desire to stretch before a long run, (not that I’m a runner myself.) I think in those sort of situations the best compromise would be a quick jog on the spot just to start to get warm. If this is done properly and the stretching is kept light this could be a good compromise for those who want to stretch first, and minimise the chance of injury for them.

      Happy running!

  • Melissa

    Hey Natalie!

    Honestly, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for this post. I had forgotten how important stretching is and how good I felt when I did it. I used to stretch at least 5 days a week before I got pregnant with my second daughter over 5 years ago. Where has the time gone?!

    This post has inspired me to start stretching again because I miss how great I felt back then.

    Really great article, thanks again!

    • Natalie

      So glad you enjoyed it Melissa, I totally agree with you- stretching does feel good, and it can actually be relaxing and enjoyable 🙂

      The fact that you stretched a lot I think will stand you in good stead as although you might feel stiff at first, the actual mobility in terms of your joints will probably still be as it was before, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting those gains back. All the best with it, and if you have any questions as you go, let me know 🙂

  • Derek Marshall

    Now that just stretched my imagination!.

    I am delighted to have stumbled across this article while searching for ways to make stretching more enjoyable!. I stretch not for dance purposes (two left feet here!) but for a way to avoid back pain and immobility later in life.

    Thank you kindly for the tips. No excuses to couch potato in front of the TV…I can stretch and watch!.

    Out of curiosity, are there any particular fave stretching exercises for increasing lower back mobility that you recommend?.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Natalie

      Haha, I see what you did there! Glad you found this helpful Derek 🙂

      Stretching is wonderful for keeping mobile, particularly as you say, if you have problem areas. I would suggest what in yoga is known as the cat stretch. To do this, you start kneeling on the floor with your weight evenly distributed between your hands and your knees. You then slowly arch your back whilst looking up. When you’ve gone as far as you can, you then pull your navel in towards your spine and tilt your pelvis so that you curl like a cat.

      It’s a great one to do, as you can do it as gently or intensively as you like, and you will definitely feel it in your lower back! It’s also good as it doesn’t take too much arm strength and you can be in control at all times. Hope that helps, and let me know if you have any other questions 🙂

      If back pain is an issue for you, you may also find my acupressure mat review helpful (they’re great for back pain.) 🙂

      https://practisedtoprodance.com/acupressure-mat-review/

  • Geri

    I love stretches! They are my go to if I don’t feel like doing any other type of workout. I started a regular exercise regimen because of stretches. After just doing stretch out routines for a week, I felt like I could do more and then it led to doing cardio, HIIT, kickboxing, pilates, strength training, etc. My advice to anyone looking for some physical activity, start with stretches because it’ll motivate you to do more!

    • Natalie

      Wow Geri, that’s so amazing! Stretching can be incredibly restorative and because of this, can actually lead to us feeling more energised, so that actually makes perfect sense! So glad you were able to find what clicks for you, and I definitely think that’s great advice 🙂

  • Timotheus

    Thanks for all these awesome tips! I have been too busy doing my online businesses, and recognize that I need to start exercising. To do that, I first need to get my body more flexible again. Warm up this old body by stretching it.

    And I love all the tips you gave. I especially like the tip to do yoga. I used to practice yoga regularly when I was younger. And I was so much more flexible and healthier then. I must start this again soon!

    Also, love the tip about watching YouTube and giving ourselves a treat after that. I will search YouTube for good and simple yoga practice for a start. And I will give myself a treat after each stretching session.

    • Natalie

      Hi Timotheus. I can totally relate, it’s so easy when you’re doing a lot of website work to not move around much. I find after a while I need to just get up and stretch, even taking 5 minutes to just have a quick stretch throughout the day, particularly if you’re sat down at your desk long hours can make such a difference to how we feel. I hate feeling stiff if I’m in one position for too long, so I find this super helpful.

      So glad you enjoyed these tips, and found ones which work for you, that’s great! I too am a particular fan of the treat system, it’s a great way to encourage ourselves and it’s nice to have a reward for our actions. Glad this helped and enjoy getting back into yoga 🙂

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