The benefits of functional stretching should not be undermined. This is a form of stretching that doesn’t just loosen those knots, it’s also an endurance and balance training.
People often don’t take flexibility too seriously, sometimes even ignorant of its importance. Ignore not! Flexibility is one of 5 pillars of human wellbeing and fitness, which means it is very important.
Having a higher level of flexibility means a bigger motion range. That means you can twist, turn, fold, and bend more freely without pulling a muscle and feeling discomfort. Being flexible isn’t just about how far you can bend your joints, but it’s also got to do with your muscle tissues, tendons, ligaments, and even connective tissues such as cartilage.
Functional stretching is a group of training full of energy, attention to detail, and training yourself to awaken and feel every part of your own body. It is a combination of strength training, physical fitness, and yoga-centric practice.
01 Sumo Shoulder Press：
Here’s a way to loosen up those tight shoulders and relieving yourself from the pain and stiffness you’ve been accumulating. This simple move can help with your metabolism, soreness in the neck and shoulder region and much more!
1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and reach both arms to the ceiling, over your head until palms meet.
2. Clasp your hands, exhale and slowly bend forward, reach for the floor.
3. Inhale, roll your back and lift, then reach for the skies again.
4. Repeat movement 10-12 reps per set.
⚠️Tip: Perform each movement slowly and accurately, make sure to feel the stretch in the shoulder and waist area.
02 Sumo Squat with Shoulder Rotation：
Not only will this sumo stance stretch open up the shoulders and upper body, relieve temporary headaches, relax the mind, but also strengthen hip muscles and increase your metabolism. It will also train the pelvic muscles to help gastrointestinal peristalsis and defecation.
1. Stand with your feet 2-3 times the width of your shoulders apart and squat down into a sumo stance.
2. Either use the backs of your wrists to push your inner thighs away from you or place the palms of your hands on your inner knees.
3. Slowly rotate your shoulders from side to side, working into the shoulder joints while stretching the inner thighs.
4. Try and look as far back as you can with your head as you turn to each side.
5. Slowly release and roll down, straighten your legs and work your hands down to the floor.
6. Roll back up slowly into a neutral standing position
⚠️You should be able to feel deep stretches in your shoulders and waist during this exercise, perform the movements slowly and deeply.
03 Forward Bend Back Extension：
This move extends your arms in a standing position and stretches your chest and back muscles. You will be able to restore muscle elasticity and reduce muscle inflammation. This one also stimulates your bum and thigh muscles, which are muscles we seldom used.
1. Stand with feet wide apart, hands clasped behind your lower back, roll the shoulders away from your ears and chest out.
2. Roll and fold forward slowly, hands remain overhead, and slightly bend your knees as your start to allow your hands to drop towards the earth
3. Take a long breath out, slowly release the hands and drop them to the sides, then slowly come back up.
⚠️Feel the stretch at the back and waist during exercise, perform the movements slowly and return to the starting position carefully.
04 Malasana Hop：
Handstands are said to be the one of the hardest poses in yoga. It requires one to be in tune with every part of their body to hold every position and to transition as well. It is an advanced pose and requires practice and preparation in order to avoid injury. This Malasana hop can help you train the upper body strength and core power that you need for building up to a handstand. This is a good and easy practice for us phubbers who are always looking down at our phones to help with our blood circulation and water retention.
1.Come down into a full plank pose with hands shoulder width-apart and feet hip-width apart.
2. Inhale and take a full breath in then hop forward with control, land gently in a Malasana (Garland) pose.
3.Press your palms together, and take a full breath in, scoop the tailbone under.
4.Exhale and reset the hand on the ground then step back into the starting position.
⚠️Take things easy and train at your own pace and according to your physical fitness.
Wondercise Top Trainer – Nick Cherup
In addition to being a 200-hour International Yoga Federation certified trainer, Nick Cherup is also a doctoral student of the Institute of Kinesiology and Science at the University of Miami. His clinical research background in sports science and chronic neurodegenerative diseases of the elderly prompted him to promote yoga and functional sports.
Nick believes that by taking a small step forward every day with hard work, perseverance and positivity, you will be able to change all the impossibilities into possibilities.