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Finding Time for Stretching as a Parent: A Quick and Effective Routine

Becoming a parent changes many aspects of life, including how much time you have for self-care. I’ve experienced this firsthand. The once ample time for stretching and exercise dwindles significantly with the demands of parenting. However, as my children grow older, I’m slowly regaining some of this precious time. Despite this, dedicating 40+ minutes to stretching every day is still unrealistic. However i still understand the value and benefits of setting aside this time each night to give myself a little self care - that’s why I’ve honed my routine to a manageable 15 minutes each night.

Here’s a compilation of my current favorite moves to combat stiffness from training, sitting, and addressing common issues most people face. (I change these up every few months so as to get the variety needed!).

These stretches are simple yet effective and can easily fit into a busy schedule.

1. Couch Straddle

  • How to Do It: Sit on the floor with your legs straddled out in front of you and place your heels on the edge of a couch. Lean forward gently, reaching for your toes or the couch.

  • Benefits: This stretch targets the hamstrings, inner thighs, and lower back, relieving tension from prolonged sitting or training.

2. Couch Stretch

  • How to Do It: Place one knee on the couch and the other foot flat on the floor, creating a 90-degree angle with both legs. Lean your hips forward slightly to deepen the stretch.

  • Benefits: This is excellent for stretching the hip flexors and quads, areas that often become tight from sitting or running.

3. Kneeling Elbow/Prayer Position

  • How to Do It: Kneel on the floor with your knees wide apart and your big toes touching. Sit back on your heels, extend your arms forward, and lower your chest to the floor, bringing your elbows down in a prayer position.

  • Benefits: This stretch opens up the hips, stretches the lower back, and promotes relaxation.

4. Low Dragon Stretch

  • How to Do It: Start in a low lunge position with one foot forward and the other leg extended back. Place your hands on the floor inside your front foot and lower your knee to the ground and feel a stretch through the hips.

  • Benefits: This stretch targets the hip flexors, groin, and inner thighs, helping to alleviate stiffness and improve flexibility.

5. Downward Dog

  • How to Do It: Start on your hands and knees, then lift your hips toward the ceiling, forming an inverted V shape with your body. Keep your hands shoulder-width apart and your feet hip-width apart. Press your heels toward the ground and keep your head relaxed between your arms.

  • Benefits: This pose stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, and hands while strengthening the arms and legs. It also helps to calm the mind and relieve stress.

My recommendation is to hold each stretch for 2-3mins (each side). The straddle could be held for 4 mins total, whilst the prayer position is good for 2-3mins. Remember to breath during the stretch - I like a 4 second inhale, 4 second hold, 4 second exhale pattern.

Making Stretching a Daily Habit

Incorporating these stretches into a nightly routine has been a game-changer for me. Not only do they help alleviate stiffness and tension, but they also provide a few moments of calm to focus on my breathing and relax before bed. Even with a busy schedule, dedicating just 15 minutes to these moves can make a significant difference in how your body feels.

At You Physio & Health, we understand the challenges of balancing parenting with self-care. That’s why we recommend this quick and effective stretching routine to help you stay flexible, healthy, and relaxed.

Remember, consistency is key. By making stretching a daily habit, you can enjoy the benefits of improved flexibility, reduced stiffness, and enhanced relaxation.

Stay flexible, stay healthy!

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