6 Simple Stretches to Feel Great

A healthy, balanced body is one that is both strong and flexible. When we think of improving our fitness, we often place the entire focus solely on getting stronger but no matter what workout you do, stretching should form part of your daily workout routine. 

Stretching is beneficial for everyone, from the pole athlete to the desk worker. It can boost muscle function; relieve stiff, sore muscles; and minimize injury, among other perks.

A lot of injuries simply happen due to an imbalance somewhere in the body. For example, tight pecs bring the shoulders forward ultimately reducing mobility in the shoulder joint. Limited shoulder mobility makes it harder to raise your arms above your head or reach for the pole in an overhead grip. All of this places unnecessary strain on the shoulder joints and with enough repetition and load could lead to a nasty shoulder injury. 

There's an old saying my dance instructor used to mention in class that I still love to this day:

"strengthen what you stretch and stretch what you strengthen."

If you're new to stretching, it can be quite daunting not knowing where to begin or even what or how to stretch but I've made it super easy for you with my short and sweet Stretch video below. I've chosen 6 simple stretches that will help you move better in your day to day life and complement your pole training.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when stretching is to take long and slow deep breaths in each pose. Start with 30-second holds and work your way up to holding each pose for 1-2 minutes, a couple of times each side. 

Things to keep in mind:

  • You want to feel a stretch/opening sensation through the pec area. 
  • When you thread the arm under, try to take that shoulder through to your mid-line for a deeper stretch.
  • Hold this stretch for at least 30 sec and take deep breaths. Eventually your arm will work its way to the floor.
  • When you extend the top arm, keep your shoulder blade connected to the rib cage as opposed to over-extending the arm out.

Modification: Place a pillow or block under the bent knee if you're knee is too high off the floor.

Things to keep in mind: 

  • This is quite an intense stretch. Start with a wide enough hand grip that will allow the arms to go up and over without the elbows bending.
  • Go slow
  • Keep the ribs down throughout the entire exercise.

Modification: This exercise can be performed with a towel or yoga strap.

Things to keep in mind: 

  • Avoid overarching the lower back as this will take the stretch away from the shoulders and upper back.
  • Take deep breaths and on each exhalation, push a little deeper into the stretch.

Modification:  If you have sensitive knees, this exercise can be performed standing using a wall or table.

Things to keep in mind: 

  • The further away you are from the wall or pole, the LESS intense the stretch will feel.
  • Lengthen your spine along the floor/mat, almost as if you're trying to arch your lower back. This will intensify the stretch.
  • Push the open knee away from your body.
  • For an even deeper stretch, move your hips closer to the wall/pole and lift the supporting heel.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Alignment and focus is everything for this one!
  • You want to feel a stretch through the front of the extended hip, right up along the side of the body.
  • This is NOT a lunge. Make sure your hips are stacked over the supporting knee. From a sideways perspective, there should be a straight line running down from your head, shoulders, hips and knee.
  • Tuck your hips under (think Michael Jackson thrust) and hold this position throughout the entire stretch.
  • Lengthen up through the spine first and then bend sideways.

Modification: Use yoga blocks but don't lean heavily on them as this could compromise your alignment. 

Things to keep in mind:

  • The closer your hands to your body, the easier the stretch.
  • Lean back with your body as you press the heel of your hand into the floor.
  • Make sure your shoulders are down and not around your ears.

Modification: If you have sensitive knees, you can perform this stretch standing up. Extend one arm with palm facing up and pull the fingers down and back with the opposite hand until you feel a stretch.

I hope you find the above exercises useful. FYI, we offer many styles of Stretch classes on our timetable that are open to all levels of flexibility. The biggest thing with stretching is making the decision to get started. 

If you have any questions at all, feel free to email me at [email protected]

With love

Jennifer Grace
Studio Director