Take Your Stretching Outside

If there’s one activity gym-goers are likely to cut out of their workout, it’s stretching. While the warm-up, workout and cool-down are all-important components to a fit and limber body, stretching ensures your joints have full range of motion and you can maintain or enhance your flexibility. Additionally, stretching post-workout delivers blood to the muscles, helping to reduce soreness.

Stretching while staring up at the ceiling of your gym and lying on the sweat-stained floor is a less-than-appealing option, so why not head outside and enjoy the fall colors? All you need is a tree, a park bench, and a patch of grass to get started!

  1. Take it to the Tree
  • For the first of these two stretches, find a tree with a long, sturdy branch, just tall enough for you to reach. Jump or reach for the branch and hang on; now gently let your legs swing from side to side as your belly, back and hips relax. You should feel heavy and grounded. Breathe deep and hold for 30 seconds, or as long as you can.
  • The second exercise might feel more intense–that’s okay! Ease into the stretch. To start, stand with your back against a large, straight tree. Now lower yourself onto all fours, a table position, so that your feet are touching the tree trunk. Bring your left leg into a lunge; your right knee will touch the ground and your right foot will touch your bum such that your right shin is entirely against the trunk of the tree. If your knee hurts, place a shirt or towel underneath for support. Keep your pelvis neutral, and your posture straight–the stretch will be felt across your quad muscles and hip flexors. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute, and repeat on the other side. For clarity, this website has pictures.

2) Park it at the Picnic Table

Find a picnic table (or park bench) and place your hands shoulder-width apart on the table. Now, holding on, take a few steps back and bend down; the stretch will be felt in your shoulders. Hold this deep shoulder stretch for 30 seconds, and play with the width between your hands to feel the release differently.

3) Book it to a Bench

Using a park bench, position your hands shoulder-width apart on the seat. Now move into a downward dog with your legs slightly bent and your hips seated back. Allow the stretch to be felt across your entire body, from your neck and back, down to your hamstrings and calves. Doggone it, that feels good!