{Video} Focus On: Stretching

Hey friends! Happy Humpday 🙂 Hope your morning has been lovely. For today’s Focus On post, I thought it would be fun to talk about something that we could all do a little more of: stretching.

funny-dog-pictures-important-stretch Source

I think we all know the benefits of stretching, but for whatever reason, it’s easy skip out on a regular stretch routine. We’re actually one of the only animals that doesn’t stretch on a regular basis.

[As always, talk to a doctor in your area if you have specific questions or concerns about your fitness routine and stretching]

So why is stretching so great?

-It helps prevent injury by encouraging full range of motion in your body

-By stretching, you can increase athletic performance by improving flexibility

Some tips on keeping stretching safe:

-It shouldn’t be painful. Stretching is uncomfortable, but don’t let your body feel pain as you stretch. If something is painful, back off, or skip out.

-Hold the stretch, and avoid ballistic movements or bouncing. Bouncing can actually create small tears in the muscle, which can leave you less flexible from potential scar tissue.

-Aim for 15-25 seconds per muscle group, every day that you possibly can – at least 2-3 times a week is beneficial. Focus on muscles you use the most often.

-Save your stretching for after your workout, or warm up for 5-10 minutes before stretching. This way, you aren’t stretching cold [less flexible and tight] muscles. Athletes have been shown to have increased performance when they stretched after an event than before, which I’ve always noticed, too. When I used to run on a regular basis, I always had a better run when I stretched afterwards instead of before.

-Keep up with it! Any gains you experience from stretching (increased range of motion, flexibility, improved performance) will decrease if you stop stretching.

-Check out *this article* on Sparkpeople, which includes different stretch plans and a guide to stretching.

Also, here’s a little stretch video I put together:


I wanted to keep it short (around 10 minutes), so I didn’t include every muscle group. It does target many of the muscles we use on a regular basis, and if you plan to use this in your stretch routine, make sure to stretch your lower back and hamstrings (a forward fold would be perfect for this), chest and front of shoulders [my favorite way to do this is to hold onto the back of a chair or a counter with one arm and slowly rotate my body away].

-It’s been a long time since I made a video, so as expected, I’m a little rusty. Please excuse the misspeaks in there, and the fact that I said “Go a little deeper” at least 48 times. Oops.

-If you try the video and would like to do it more often, feel free to mute me and play your favorite slow, stretching music.

Relaxing Noodle Playlist #1 and #2 include some of my beloved stretch songs 🙂

Happy stretching!



How often do you stretch? What’s your fave stretch?

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  1. Rachel on September 28, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    You’re Glowing, this is awesome. Thanks for the video!

    • Fitnessista on September 28, 2011 at 3:20 pm

      <3 hope you like it!

  2. Kate on September 28, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    I love these videos im bookmarking whenever i dont have time for yoga!

  3. Suzi @ Confessions of a Fitness Instructor on September 28, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    nice Gina!

    p.s. you forgot to link to the two playlists 😉

    • Fitnessista on September 28, 2011 at 3:32 pm

      i think i was fixing that as you were commenting- thanks for the heads up!

  4. mi-an d. on September 28, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    i yoga twice a week so i stretch when i’m there but i also stretch at home…downward dog is my fave. it stretches everything! btw you look good!! 🙂

  5. Laura on September 28, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    I don’t stretch as much as I used to, which was upwards of an hour a day. Dance and figure skating will do that 🙂 I’m a huge fan of leg stretches, like pigeon, forward bend, and quad stretches (I do the one where you put your shin against a wall and lunge – horrible description, I know). Now most of my stretching comes in yoga form. Best stretch ever – YIN YOGA.

    • Fitnessista on September 28, 2011 at 3:36 pm

      i’ve never taken a yin yoga class, but would love to. loooooove pigeon 🙂

      • Rachel on September 28, 2011 at 3:45 pm

        I just took my first three weeks ago. It was Tough (but I’m nowhere near as advaced or bendy as you are) and awesome. Our insrtuctor said that in the 12 years of teaching yoga she had only been able to do the splits after she started doing/teaching Yin yoga and I believe her. I was a total noodle for two solid days after the class.

        • Fitnessista on September 28, 2011 at 3:46 pm

          that is amazing… i’ll definitely have to seek out a class

  6. Laura @ Backstage Balance on September 28, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    I hit ‘play’ on your video and turned on the sound on my computer, not realizing that a YouTube for an artist me have this weekend (STS9) was playing in the background. I thought, wow – this is some intense music for Gina’s stretching routine! – and then figured it out. Lol!
    Great videos, thanks for sharing these. The neck stretches are so easy yet I neglect those poor little muscles. I’m going to send the video links around the office and encourage my coworkers to take a stretch break!

    • Fitnessista on September 28, 2011 at 3:37 pm

      it’s crazy how easy it is to forget that we’re holding our head up all day – neck stretches are super helpful.
      haha i love that you thought i was playing some crazy music 🙂

  7. Laura @ Backstage Balance on September 28, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    oops, a typo – ” for an artist me have this weekend” should be ” for an artist WE have this weekend”

  8. RachelG on September 28, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    I swear I’ve walked by the foam rollers at my gym hundreds of times and never gave them a second glance. After this mornings sorta bridal bootcamp/sorta ab workout I used one to stretch and it felt AH-mazing! I’ll definitely try to incorporate some of these stretches as well. 🙂

    Unless I’m in a yoga class or I feel my wrists tightening up from being at the computer all day it’s so easy to forget to stretch!

  9. Casey @ Pocket Full of Sunshine on September 28, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    I try to stretch every day—I usually only skip one or two days a week working out in general, and I get in a 5 to 10 min stretch sesh after every workout. It’s my favorite part—I love stretching! But no amount of stretching on my own can achieve the lovely yoga noodle affect you get after a good group Yoga class 🙂

  10. Carly on September 28, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    My neck has been aching all day – this is exactly what I needed. I just closed my office door and went through both videos. I’m a belly sleeper and am really trying to break the habit. I am going to make a conscious effort to stretch more often – especially during 10-hour stints sitting at a computer 🙂 Thank you!

  11. Elizabeth @ RunWithSneakers on September 28, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    I always skip out on stretching — so bad. Thanks so very much for posting your videos, they will be so helpful. Love the dog-stretching photo and caption!

  12. Kahea on September 28, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    This came at the perfect time! I was actually looking for some stretches to do since I’m not too familiar with which stretches work which muscles, etc. This is awesome! Thanks!

  13. Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga on September 28, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    I stretch daily during yoga and I love just holding downward dogs. Basic but really effective.

    Have a great day 🙂

  14. Anna @ On Anna's Plate on September 28, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    I am sooooo bad about stretching…but whenever I DO take the time to do it, it feels soooooo good!!! 🙂

  15. Bec on September 28, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    so……. I wonder if you would do a couple more of these??? I LOVED it!!! I did it right along with you twice though! 🙂 You hit my majority problem area’s! 🙂 Thanks so much! and I must say you look fab! 🙂

    • Fitnessista on September 28, 2011 at 4:05 pm

      sure, maybe i’ll do a barre one and a prone/supine one since the classes i teach are mostly at the barre or on the floor
      thank you <3

  16. Tami on September 28, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    you are such a cutie with your belly and pregnant glow!

    • Fitnessista on September 28, 2011 at 4:05 pm

      aww thanks girl 🙂

  17. Stacey on September 28, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    I usually end up stretching at work when we have some down time, but have recently started P90X and absolutely love their X Stretch! I only have so much time with work, school, and family stuff to exercise, but that is one thing I’m definitely going to make time for.

    P.S. You look amazing, I agree with Rachel, definitely glowing.

  18. Michelle on September 28, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    Thanks so much, Gina. Just did this at work (shhh…) and feel so much better now 🙂

    I always stretch after I work out or teach Zumba, but it’s a good reminder that I need to do this every day!

    • Fitnessista on September 28, 2011 at 4:29 pm

      so glad you liked it!

  19. kathleen @ the daily crumb on September 28, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    great video, gina! i love that even a power yoga class has a good stretch built in… just like you said, forces me to do it!

  20. Suzie on September 28, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    I do yoga once a week, and I always feel great afterwards. Plus I do karate three times a week, and we usually spend some time doing stretches (one of instructors is ex-dance/gymnastics)

    Weirdly, I think I am getting more flexible from karate than yoga… but maybe that’s just because I do it more often?

    If you ever run out of focus on ideas you should do one on martial arts 🙂 Karate has been really good for my all round fitness, I’d love to know more about the other options out there.

  21. Amy on September 28, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    I love stretching! I usually only do it 2-3 times a week. I need to do it more often than that. Yesterday the lecture for the course I’m teaching was about stretching so I did a seated stretching routine with the students, things that they can do while sitting in classes or at their desks while working. Tomorrow we’re going to be doing some flexibility testing, Next week we get to talk about one of my favorite subjects, Body Composition! 🙂 If you would have asked any of my siblings 10 years ago what I was going to get my PhD in they would have told you Obesity, still to this day it’s one of my obsessions although I’ve branched out into other areas of obsession as well.

  22. Hillary on September 28, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    I never officially take time to stretch, which I know is really bad for me. I’ll definitely give some of these a shot!

  23. Christena on September 28, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    Very good video. You have a nice fitness instructor voice/presence. You also look really cute – love the tank.

    • Fitnessista on September 28, 2011 at 6:40 pm

      thanks girl 🙂

  24. Allison @ Food for Healing on September 28, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    i should definitely stretch WAAAY more. I try to after a workout, it feels best, obviously because my muscles are nice and warmed up, but i am guilty for slackin off in the stretching department!

  25. Jenny on September 28, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    I just wanted to thank you for the stretching videos–I am not so good at stretching and it is so important!! I also came back to your blog after an abscense d/t work and life being crazy and I am so glad to be back. I have been catching up on posts and the pregnancy ones last might about guys whistling then seeing the belly had me laughing out loud. I am about 14 weeks preg myself with my third so they really hit home! Thank you for the advice, information, and entertainment!!

  26. Erin @ Girl Gone Veggie on September 28, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    This was a great video! Thanks so much! My favorite stretch is a straddle stretch leaning as far forward as you can. I’m pretty bendy and this one always hurts so good as I push myself to stretch farther.

  27. Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin on September 28, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    Thanks for the videos!

    I stretch after every workout, but I probably don’t stretch for long enough. I get bored after 3 minutes. 😛

  28. Danica @ It's Progression Not Perfection on September 28, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    This is a great reminder–I need to stretch more often! Thanks for the videos!

  29. Heather on September 28, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    You are precious, kind and beautiful from the inside out! I will so be using this after spin class tomorrow!

  30. Joelle (On A Pink Typewriter) on September 28, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    That photo at the top of the post is hilar! Thanks for putting together this video!

  31. Danielle on September 28, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    After taking my primary group fitness certification for AFAA earlier this month, I can pretty much say that you are a textbook-awesome instructor!! Everything I was told to do — you did right here in your teaching 😉 Great job with the video!

    • Fitnessista on September 28, 2011 at 11:34 pm

      that is a huge compliment- thank you!

  32. Jessica on September 28, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    I loved feeling like I was in one of your classes! Also, I can definitely see how your hair is different with pregnancy- beautiful!!

    • Fitnessista on September 28, 2011 at 11:33 pm

      thanks, girl <3 so glad you tried the video!

  33. Nadia on September 28, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    This was an amazing tutorial. I never know how to stretch, and get easily intimidated at the gym since I’m still a newbie. I love your blog, I love the information it imparts, and the way it inspires! You’re awesome! Thanks so much!

    • Fitnessista on September 28, 2011 at 11:33 pm

      thank you so much nadia! <3

  34. Mardi on September 28, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    I NEED ADVICE! I’m 22 and have been battling stomach issues my whole life. I’ve known that I’m dairy intolerant for probably 10 years now and just recently decided that enough was enough and cut out dairy from my diet completely. Sad day to say the least and I know you’ll agree on that one! Well my problems didn’t necessarily go away like I thought they would. So on to the doc I went to find out that I may have celiac’s disease. With a process of trial and error we have come to the conclusion that I am, in fact, gluten intolerant. (I really don’t want to go through the other process if ya know what I mean.)

    Anyways, I’m completely lost! I’m southern born and bred so naturally I love food. Now I feel like all of my fav things are gone forever and I’m not sure what to eat and how and well what tastes good in general. This is where I turn to you asking what the heck do I do now?

    So I guess I was wondering what products are the best, any amazing recipes I have to know, any books or blogs I should look into, or really anything I’m missing in general. Also, I’m terrified to go out to eat cause I’m scared no one will have anything for this very food allergic girl to eat. Any tips you could share with me would never be forgotten!!!

    • Fitnessista on September 28, 2011 at 11:10 pm

      hey girl,
      i have two blogs that i think might help a lot: edible perspective (edibleperspective.com) and pure2raw (pure2raw.com)- all of these girls post awesome allergy-friendly recipes.
      so sorry to hear that you have to change your lifestyle, but the good news is that you discovered what was causing your discomfort.
      hope this helps a little!

  35. Katie @ Plates and Paste on September 28, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    I definitely need to stretch more. I tend to stretch my hips the most since they get so tight. So hip stretches are my face 🙂

  36. Laura F. on September 29, 2011 at 2:37 am

    Thanks so much for the video! You are a beautiful pregnant lady 🙂 I’ve been reading your blog for a while but haven’t commented – I so appreciate this little “window” into a trainer’s life! I have a question for ya – I recently made the commitment to eat out less frequently. Because of being time crunched (or, that’s what I tell myself), I tend to rely on eating out on the fly way too much. I’m a nerdy budgeter myself, and I am trying to set a realistic food budget that includes a bit extra for some organic or pricy indulgences. I’ve previously allocated $360/month to groceries and household items (detergent, deoderant, all that good stuff), and I can’t believe that’s not enough for a family of 3, but it appears to be true. Any suggestions on how to budget well for food?

  37. Courtney on September 29, 2011 at 4:23 am

    Great videos! Thank you. =)

  38. Janiek on September 29, 2011 at 5:32 am

    I wish stretching would constitute a real work-out because it’s the one thing I never get bored with!

  39. Amy Sz on September 29, 2011 at 11:49 am

    Hi Gina and thanks for your videos. I just moved to a new city and the instructors at my new gym do not spend more than a couple of minutes on stretching. I used to do at least 10 minutes 3 times a week and I didn’t realize how much I missed it. When I saw your video post, I stopped what I was doing and immediately did your stretches. I am currently going to school to become a trainer and already know that stretching will be a big part of my toolbox. Thanks again!! Love your blog, btw 🙂

  40. Katie on September 30, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Gina, I just did this after a run- and a hard bootcamp day yesterday!- and it felt soooo good. Thanks so much for posting this! I’m really trying to get back into stretching again and you’re right: we never realize how much tension we’re holding in our feet, neck, booty, etc. I’d love more of these if you have time!

    Also you look so happy and healthy! Glad for you, friend 🙂

  41. Tiffany @ texan on the run on October 2, 2011 at 5:13 am

    Ha as a med student, I’m so impressed with your reference to levator (scapular) muscle and scalene 🙂
    Thanks for leaving out the um’s and like’s. You are the only blogger I know that doesn’t do these valley girl esque things…thank you! Lol

    • Fitnessista on October 2, 2011 at 12:25 pm

      thanks girl!

  42. Amanda Lee on October 3, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    I’ve been gone for about a week an a half (just got married) 😀 !!
    Catching up on your blog. I have to say you are so beautiful in the videos! You can’t even tell you’re pregnant from the front! (I may have skipped through the video just to see a side belly shot). 😉

    • Fitnessista on October 3, 2011 at 12:26 pm

      aww thanks girl!
      CONGRATS on your wedding- that’s so exciting. enjoy the honeymoon bliss 🙂

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