Stretching with Nina from Adara Pilates

I caught up with Nina from @adarapilates She is a pilates instructor trained by @barrebody and is currently a Student Naturopath with @thepracticewellbeing

Stretching is an amazing way to increase flexibility to support overall health. It is a way to increase mobility to do everyday tasks as well as preventing delayed onset of muscle soreness associated with exercise as well as injuries.

Performing stretches in the morning can help get the blood circulating around the body, energizing the body, destressing the body, and reducing any aches or pains from your night's sleep.

Go to stretches for the morning

cat cow

-       This exercise is a beautiful way to get the blood flowing through the body. This exercise is great for the trunk of the body as it focuses on our spine, shoulders, neck, core, and chest by finding this beautiful lengthening and opening sensation. It also improves flexibility whilst releasing any built-up tension in the upper back and neck by reducing pain in your lower back and stress within the body.

downward facing dog

-       A perfect stretch through the hamstrings, hips, calves, and spine, this stretch will have you feeling flowy and zen. You can spice this stretch up by adding a hip opener by extending one leg and then bending at the knee. Making this into a flow of downward dog into high plank is a perfect way to activate through the core. Even peddling out the knees to stretch out the calves is such an amazing feeling. There is so much you can do with this stretch. You will find strength through your upper body whilst elongating through the spine. Having the blood flow down towards the head improves circulation whilst also relieving any tension associated with headaches and mental fogginess.

thread the needle

-       Releasing tension in the shoulders and a mild spinal twist this stretch is perfect to relieve any built-up tension in these areas. This stretch is perfect to open through the chest and shoulders to improve our posture to avoid that hunching rounding of the shoulders. It is great to do this at the start of the day if you are someone who works at a desk or looking down at your phone/laptop as it will improve your posture but also mental clarity.

spinal twist

-       This stretch will have your lower back and hips feeling decompressed. Focusing on the spine, there is also this beautiful opening sensation through the chest, shoulders, and upper back muscles.  This will help you have amazing posture and alignment through the spine. The spinal twist also has the ability to stimulate digestion and create balance.

bird dog

-       This proning exercise is perfect for strengthening the whole body but is amazing at engaging through the back of the body to improve posture. Finding core activation increases stability which will help with balance the more you practice it. Bird dog also works into the glutes which is amazing at supporting the lower back, preventing pain and injury in this area. To get a little more out of this exercise as you extend the opposite arm and leg, start to add a lift up and down. You could also hold the opposite arm and leg long then drive the elbow and knee into the center then reextend out long. These additions will increase core, shoulder, and glute activation to improve circulation and flexibility throughout the body.

The benefits of stretching

-       Increases the range of motion and reduces muscle stiffness: improving the range of motion this slows the degeneration of joints.

-       Increases flexibility: lengthening muscles can increase movement control, the feeling of elasticity and increase the range of motion.

-       Reduces the risk of future injuries:  having muscles that are able to move in a range of motion are less likely to be injured as it can decrease joint mobility and the resistance on our muscles.

-       Improves posture: stretching supports the body by finding an opening and lengthening sensation. This helps in aligning the spine which helps have better posture.

-       Helps with stress management: when our muscles are stretched it takes the tension out of the muscles relieving any stress. When the body is stressed we hold tension which then constricts blood circulation in our muscles and lower back area. When we stretch this stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system to decrease the production of our stress hormones.

-       Reduces muscular tension: relaxed muscles are essential to allow oxygen and nutrients to reach the entire body.

-       Supports circulation: increasing blood supply around the body especially our joints and muscles allow for better oxygen and nutrient transportation.

-       Heals and prevents back pain: having tight hamstrings, hip flexors and muscles associated with our pelvic region causes tension in our lumbar spine. It is important to stretch out the legs, glutes, and hip flexors to prevent back pain.

* For any enquiries please dm Nina's pilates account @adarapilates