Why I started stretching
With sitting down all day at work I find that my legs and back become very inflexible. I have tried to combat part of the problem by using a standing desk, however, I still find myself sitting for most of the day. Also, the running and cycling that I do for exercise are not great for leg mobility and I find that I get very stiff hamstrings. Leaving these symptoms unchecked results in a very inflexible lower body for myself and I can only imagine it getting worse the older I get.
When do I find the time?
Stretching seems to be the last thing on everyone's mind and I have experimented with trying to fit it into a range of different habits and routines. The most obvious one is straight after strength training in the gym, but after a workout in the gym, the last thing I want to do is hang around for another 15 mins and stretch. Alternatively, I have tried after a cardio-based workout, running, or cycling, however, I am normally in no state to do anything apart from sip water and sit quietly.
Therefore, I have built the routine into my mornings and typically stretching is the first thing I will do. With it only taking 15 mins and being a great and relaxing way to start the morning, I have become to start to enjoy stretching. I have reached the stage now where my days feel "off" if I did not start them with a stretch.
How do I ensure I stretch every day
I use a recurring event in my calendar for 15 mins every morning, this way I can make sure I have the time allocated each day to stretch. For now I do the stretching routine, I use the streaks workout app to talk me through the stretches. The app calls out the next stretch and counts down the time remaining.
I use automation to start the stretching app, begin an activity on my Apple Watch and check off the daily goal in the Streaks App. For long-term motivation, I track the number of days per month I stretch in the Streak's App (habit tracking post here). This way I can see the month-on-month frequency and make sure I am stretching for above 90% of the days in the month.
What stretches are in my routine?
The stretching routine I have chosen is a mishmash collection of mostly lower-body stretches. As I sit down for a lot of the day, that seems to work best for me. This is why there is a focus on the hips, glutes, and lower back muscle groups.