It took me a while to realize that much of the discomfort that accumulates in my body over time, is mainly from tight muscles and tendons.
Stretching started off as an occasional accessory to my training routines. Now, it has become an absolute necessity.
A lot of our daily discomfort and stiffness can be attributed to our lifestyles. Just look around. Most people sit in a chair, hunched over a computer, tablet, or phone all day. This works a number on your back, neck, and shoulders.
You should consciously think about your posture throughout the day. If you find yourself sitting in a bad position, correct it.
Correcting your posture is a key habit in the 30 Days of Discipline. Mike Cernovich also discusses the importance of posture in relation to dominant body language in Gorilla Mindset.
It will be hard at first, and you’ll quickly realize how easy it is to slip back into a bad posture. Over time though, your posture will improve as your body gets used to the new, more supportive position.
Top Stretches To Change Your Life
This isn’t me trying to hype you up.
I’m serious. Focusing on these stretches has greatly improved my daily quality of life and comfort.
You should feel a deep stretch when you do these movements, but not pain. If you experience pain, dial it back a notch.
Tendons are easy to tear, especially if your muscles and joints are not warmed up.
Start slow, start easy, and work your way up in intensity as your body gets used to these stretches.
My neck discomfort has taken a long time to fix, and I believe I’m almost there.
Years of poor posture and working at a computer have placed a ton of stress on my neck. That, and a couple car wrecks as I was growing up that gave me some pretty bad whiplash.
There have been times where my traps and sternocleidomastoids have spasmed so much that I couldn’t even turn my head.
Now, I go through a full 360 degree neck stretching routine, pretty much daily.
This isn’t comfortable by any means (most stretches aren’t), but you’ll feel sweet relief afterwards once you are done.
Honestly, I’ve felt the most relief the farther and farther I’ve pushed myself to stretch my neck.
DISCLAIMER: Please be careful. Don’t snap your shit up!
You should take tender care of your cervical spine, but don’t be afraid to beef it up with some neck exercises as well. A thick neck and meaty traps exude power.
I’m going to write an article in the future on exercises you can do that will give you a nice, thick neck. I’ll link it back here once I work on it.
Neck Stretch One
Place your arm straight against a wall and twist your body away while looking in the opposite direction. You should feel a stretch across the front of your shoulder and into your neck and jawline. For a more intense stretch, use your hand to push your chin further away from the arm on the wall, while tilting your head up and down in that direction. I enjoy this stretch because it hits my sternocleidomastoid quite well.
Neck Stretch Two
For this stretch, retract and drop your scapulae while looking down and tucking your chin towards your chest. This stretches out your traps and allows you to stretch the back of your neck, really focusing on where the muscles attach to the base of your skull. Use your hand to pull the base of your head away from your back and down towards your chest for a deeper stretch.
Neck Stretch Three
This stretch is similar to the last one, but more intense. I grab onto the bottom of a chair while leaning away, which REALLY stretches out the trap on that side. I then tuck my chin towards the opposite side of my chest and pull my head down. This allows me to get a bigger stretch in my neck on the side with the dropped arm. Rotate your head slightly back and forth to feel a stretch all along the base of your skull and the middle of your traps.
Hip Flexors & Low Back
If you’re having sex, as you should be, you definitely need to stretch your hip flexors and low back.
Sex is very taxing on the hips and can lead to tons of tightness if you don’t do any mobility work. Ultimately, this can lead to drastically decreased performance in the bedroom.
Outside the bedroom, having good hip and low back mobility will make your daily life MUCHmore comfortable. Sitting all day really fucks up our bodies.
These three stretches are the main ones I’ve used to improve my daily quality of life when it comes to my lower body.
Place your legs into as wide of a V as you can, while still keeping your knees locked out (flex your quads to assist with this). Then reach away from your body with your hands, as far as you can. Ultimately, you goal is to achieve the fully collapsed positions above. You may only be able to go partially the way down, but over time, your hips and low back will open up and allow you to stretch further. You’ll also be able to spread your legs farther apart as you gain more mobility in your hips.
Place your feet together, close to your groin, and work on keeping your knees as close to the floor as possible. Then, reach out and away from your body, while keeping your back relatively straight. Instead of hunching over to get closer to the floor with your chest, focus on driving your belly button towards your toes. This stretch really helps open up the hips and alleviate tension in the low back.
Hip Flexor Lunge Stretch
Get into a wide lunge, and drive your back knee towards the ground while keeping your front knee vertical. On the side with your dropped knee, reach your arm up and behind your head as far as you possibly can. Focus on achieving the biggest stretch possible across your lower abs and into your hip flexors. This is one of the most helpful stretches for instantly gaining more mobility in your hips, so it’s one of my favorites to do in between squats. NOTE: This is a standing variation of Elliott’s stretch for hitting your psoas muscle and hip flexors.
If you haven’t noticed the pattern yet, our habit of sitting all day is one of the greatest contributors to muscle tightness.
Another problem with sitting, is that it tends to make you hunch over and roll your shoulders forward. Most people are extremely tight in their shoulders, and have very limited shoulder mobility.
If you want to keep your shoulders healthy, especially if you are lifting heavy ass weight, you need to add in some shoulder stretches to your routine.
The three stretches below have been the bread-and-butter of my shoulder stretching routine. They have kept me from getting injured in the gym and have allowed me to lift heavier weight.
Perform them before, during, and after EVERYupper body workout if you want to see all of your lifts improve.
NOTE: The name is scary, but the stretch is not. You won’t dislocate your shoulders.
This is one of the best stretches for opening up your shoulders. Using a broom or PVC pipe (something light!), start with an outside-shoulder-width grip and lock your elbows. While keeping your arms straight, pass the bar over your head and down until it touches your lower back. The entire time, your arms should remain locked out. Over time, work to get your hands closer and closer together while still being able to pass the bar from front to back.
This is the main portion of the movement I like to focus on. I pass back and forth in this range of motion while feeling a HUGE stretch across my front delts. Shoulder dislocates have been extremely helpful with creating more mobility in my shoulders, which has been a problem in the past from being hunched over a computer all the time. Try some shoulder dislocates if you’re interested in improving your mobility for benching and any overhead pressing movements.
Pec Major/Minor, Anterior Delt, and Bicep Stretch
We’re back to the same setup as one of our neck stretches, but this time we are focusing on stretching our upper chest, front delt, and bicep. Place your hand flat against a wall and turn your body away while keeping your arm straight. You should feel a stretch across your bicep and into your shoulder. I do this stretch in between most sets when I am benching, and it definitely helps me lift more weight.
Lat & Rear Delt Stretch
While grabbing onto a pole or corner of a wall, get into a deep lunge and drive your hip towards the ground (the same hip as the hand you are grasping with). Focus on pulling down and away from the pole in order to feel a deep stretch going through your lat, right down to where it inserts into your lower back. While maintaining that deep stretch, twist your upper body both under and away from your arm as shown above. This results in an even more intense stretch through your shoulder, mid-trap, and lat.
That’s All Folks… For Now
Those are the main stretches I perform on a daily basis. I’ll do another article (and video) in the future that covers some of my more “accessory” stretches that I perform less frequently.
For now, focus on the stretches in this article and I assure you, your daily sense of well-being and comfort will improve within a matter of weeks. Keep at it, and within a few months you’ll be more flexible than you ever imagined possible.