The month of July is all about health and nutrition. This year’s theme: promotion of physical activity. Of course promotion physical activity is not just a one month thing. Physical activity should be a daily routine for an individual. Engaging in physical activity is one of the best gifts that you can give to your body. But, is there something lacking in your exercise routine?

If you are not doing stretching before and after your workout, then probably you’re missing one of the most important part of exercise. To most of us, stretching is like an after thought in workouts. We usually forget to stretch, and immediately dive into the actual exercise. The results? Extreme muscle pain and sprains. But you know that these can be avoided right? If not, minimize the chances.

Stretching can help you in numerous ways. It can relieve back pain, sore knees, and muscles strains. Stretching can even set you toward better performance. When you stretch regularly, your muscle adopts to push and pull of movements, giving you the leverage to jump and run faster. With stretching, you can easily turn your head and look who’s behind you. Tight arms and thighs will also never be a problem. In short, stretching can give you the potential to maximize your ability. Another good news is that, stretching is for all ages. For older adults, regular stretching can improve your balance.

So, how often should one stretch? According to American College of Sport Medicines, healthy adults should do flexibility exercises (e.g. yoga, tai chi) for major muscles (e.g. neck, should, chest, trunk, lower back, hips, legs, and ankles)- at least 2 to 3 times a week. With 60 seconds on each stretching exercise. You can hold each exercise for 10 to 30 seconds. But remember not to overdo it. If it hurts, you can hold the stretch for shorter times and work your way through.

Hear are some simple stretches that you can do anywhere:

  • Calf Stretch

Stand-up straight. Put your hands to your hips. Extend your right leg straight back and press the heel toward the floor. Allow your left knee to bend to ease the movement. Hold, then repeat with the other leg.

  • Standing Quadriceps Stretch

Stand-up straight. Bend your left knee and reach back with your right hand to grasp you right foot, lifting towards your buttocks. Hold and repeat with the other leg. You may want to hold onto a chair or wall to keep your balance.

  • Standing Hamstring Stretch

Extend you right leg straight in front. Point your toes to the ceiling with heel on the floor. Slightly bend forward and put your hands to your upper thighs for support.

  • Neck Rotation

Stand in your best posture, facing forward. Slowly rotate your head to the right and left, while holding each side. You can also do this stretch while sitting.

  • Chest Stretch

Stand in your best posture, facing forward. Clasp your hands behind you and gently lift your hands towards the ceiling. Hold. You can also do this stretch while sitting.

  • Overhead stretch

Interlace your fingers and rotate your palm. Raise your hands toward the ceiling, while your palms facing upwards. Hold. This stretch is best done while sitting.

Perform these stretches during and after your exercise routine. You can also do this after a long day’s work. Just remember that before starting a new activity, it’s best to check in with your doctor first, particularly for people who had recent surgery, experiencing pain, and unstable health condition. Stretching is relaxing, rewarding and can make your everyday activity, including house chores, as simple as pie.