Top 5 Stretches

Did you know that stretching boosts blood flow to the brain?

There’s a reason why we call it mind body exercise! PLUS it always just feels sooo good! Stretching out is just a highlight of my day!

I’m back to picking my favorites again- and this time to end 2018- I’m choosing my top 5 stretches….

As we head full force into winter - lets get energized and mobile!

Flexibility has three factors - muscle length, tendon length as well as joint depth. 

Remember babes- you can ONLY change the length of your muscles! 

Stretching lengthens muscles slowly. But you can’t change your tendons very much! 

And  you definitely cannot change the depth of your ball and socket joints as they are genetically determined....

Tendons get very little blood flow so they are not as pliable as your muscles.  So always be careful not to stretch your joints too much or you could damage your tendons. They take time to heal so go slow…- always stretch the muscles belly center and be mindful of your joints.  

top 5 stretches yoga jessi fit pilates

I’ve never been able to do a full split and at my age I'm ok with that!!! 

I do make it a point to stretch daily- even if just for a few minutes because it just keeps me feeling limber and keeps my back pain free.  Here’s why:

Stretching Benefits:

  • Improved muscles fiber length and greater range of motion.  This leads to better performance in daily life activities and sports.  It also makes your strength exercises more effective.  

  • Prevents injuries and reduces muscle soreness.  Make sure you include when some before and after workouts.  Plus it reduces how long your sore- getting you back to your next workout quicker!

  • Improves posture by reversing the tightening effects of sitting or extreme sports.  Stretching can enhance your muscular coordination and body awraeness- helping you keep your spine and body aligned through prolonged periods.

  • Reduces lower lower back pain. Keeping the muscles around and by the spine can help improve your alignment.  It can even reduce the likelihood of tension headaches!

  • Increases blood flow to muscles and brain.  You’ll feel energized from increased circulation.  When we feel lethargic, our muscles tighten, stretching reverses this!  Try some of the below moves next time you need a pick me up

  • Reduces stress - stress causes muscles to contract and this contributes to a poor feeling of feel being.  Stretching and deep breathing can restore your sense of calm

So get ready to stretch it out with me…

I went live on Instagram with these moves a few weeks back (make sure you’re following me there so you never miss a live event)

Feel free to scroll down to see the full video or check the images and tips for each of my favorite yoga inspired stretches!

lying hamstring stretch jessi fit pilates

5. Lying Hamstring Stretch

TARGETS : Hamstrings- Back of Thighs, Calves. Lower back

  • Lay back on mat and use a strap to hook your foot   

  • Arms can hold strap or stabilize hips

  • Keep sides long and bend knee as needed

  • Try to keep hips and shoulder bones on mat

  • Spine in Neutral- dot flatten or over arch 

VARIATIONS- cross leg to opposite side or out to same ear

Foot can reach to sides to target inner and outer thighs.

Foot can reach to sides to target inner and outer thighs.

4. Lying Twist

TARGETS :Back Sides Hips Chest

twist jessi fit pilates top 5 stretches
  • Lay back on mat and bring knee across to opposite hip

  • Opposite arm to knee and gently guide deeper into stretch

  • Same arm reaches out 

  • reach long ling long and engage core

  • Shoulders stretch out to sides

Modifications- Use a block to knee if you can’t get knee to at

Block under knee variation

Block under knee variation

3. Shoulder Cross

TARGETS : Shoulders Back Hips

  • Sit kneeling and cross arms ad reach

  • Sit into a childs pose

  • Arms reach out to sides

  • Ise bodyweight to deepen the hold

  • Shoulders reach to list neck is long

  • Collarbones are wide gaze is forward

 Make sure to do both sides and keep upper back engaged 

Let’s get twisted….

Let’s get twisted….

2. Kneeling Lunge

TARGETS: Hip Flexors, Quads, Legs, Back Shoulders

kneeling luncge
  • Keep front knee over front foot  

  • Front heel presses down and all 5 toe press evenly to mat

  • Keep chest prod and wide and hips squared to shoulders

  • Engage the back glute deep to open hip safely

  • Spine stays long, neck and tail in line

    VARIATION: Side bend reaching arm over

Take a side bend to add dimension

Take a side bend to add dimension

1.Quad & Rocking Stretch

IIf there’s one we need the most this is it! it is not always easy for me but I know this position will help reverse computer posture and driving- keeping my spine in check:)

quad stretch top stretches yoga jessi it pilates

TARGETS: Quads, Chest Shoulders, Back

  • Widen chest and open hips

  • Engage abs and glutes for support

  • Neck aligns with spnine

  • Shoulders drop to waist

  • Knees and feet stay parallel don’t rotate out

MODIFY- with the one leg version

VARIATIONS- try hand inside feet

See the video for some modifications and more in depth cues and visuals

bow pose rocking pilates jessi fit pilates

Let’s put them together now into one workout! I filmed this live on instagram and I had so much fun doing it with you:)

Which is your favorite?

Comment below and let me know!

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End of the year discount- use code MERRYEVERYTHING FOR 20 percent Off until Jan 2