How to Make Stretching Less Boring so You’ll Actually Do It

How to Make Stretching Less Boring so You’ll Actually Do It
Photo: BongkarnGraphic, Shutterstock

Every January, I pledge to improve my flexibility by stretching consistently. And yet, when it comes to my stretching routine, I’m guilty of cutting some corners. And by “cutting some corners,” I do mean that I’ll go months without properly tending to my sore muscles. Oops.

We’ve previously noted that while stretching is not a cure-all, there are plenty of reasons to stretch, like increasing your range of motion, reducing soreness, and meditative mental effects. However, my main issue with stretching is not a lack of motivation, but a lack of focus in-the-moment. I get wildly bored. And while I’m not diagnosed (or even self-diagnosed) with ADHD, posts like this one from r/ADHD have inspired me to hack my own boredom and figure out how to stretch my muscles for more than 30 seconds at a time.

If you’re interested in how to stretch if you hate stretching and which stretches to try if you’re not flexible, we’ve got you covered. Now, here are ways to actually get those stretches done without dying of boredom in the process.

Watch TV

So obvious, yet so elegant. If you want to stretch more frequently and for longer periods of time, there’s nothing like putting on your favourite show to get the job done. No other mental trickery works quite like high-quality escapism, in my opinion. Besides, I’m sure the creators of Succession envisioned me rolling out my quads while enjoying their beautiful narcissists.

As long as you don’t find yourself so engrossed in the program that you forget to change up stretching positions, this makes stretching fun and makes TV-watching productive. Win-win.

Listen to a podcast or audiobook

Just like watching TV, this is all about finding something that sufficiently distracts you and makes the act of stretching fly by. The benefit of audio-only options is the ability to focus more on your body (rather than trying to look at a screen). Plus, if you’re in a gym, listening to podcasts or audiobooks might be preferable to loading Netflix over gym wifi. Succession companion pods, anyone?

Watch a guided, stretching-specific video

Maybe distraction is your enemy and what you need is someone telling you exactly what to do and for how long to do it. Guided practices, like​​ Yoga With Adriene, might be right for you. Especially if you’re new to stretching, it’s helpful to have an instructor guide and encourage you all the way. My one piece of advice here is to be ready to incorporate modifications and small breaks, so you don’t get discouraged and abandon your stretching altogether.

Make it social

Grab a friend and force ask them to stretch with you. You don’t have to be doing the same stretches–in fact, it might be better to do different stretches so that you can avoid getting overly competitive. The point of this tip is to have someone holding you accountable.

Learn how to count in a new language

Trying to reach for your toes for thirty seconds? Practice counting to thirty in Russian. While your brain is focusing on this new skill, you’ll forget all about the monotony of grasping at your toes.

Make mental lists

Like learning how to count in a new language, try reciting all the U.S. presidents, French verb conjugations, some kind of sports stats — whatever keeps you occupied.

Rehearse for something

All those impassioned conversations and speeches you have in your bathroom mirror? Incorporate them into your stretching routine. You won’t believe how time flies while you’re busy winning imaginary arguments or crushing your next presentation at work.

Incorporate some kind of prop

Try using a resistance band or experiment rolling out with a tennis ball. With the tennis ball especially, you can throw in a game to keep you occupied, like the one in this video.

Extra tricks to get stretching in the first place

If your issue is less about in-the-moment boredom, and more about maintaining that Jan. 1 level of motivation, here are some mental tricks to get yourself into that very first stretching position:

  • Sneak in stretches while you’re doing something else, like brushing your teeth or waiting for food to heat up.
  • Dress the part to motivate yourself, using the act of putting on your yoga pants to remind you of their intended purpose.
  • Use tools like the “1 Second Everyday” app to track your progress. The trick here is to stick around longer than it takes to document yourself stretching.

Finally, if you’re looking for new ideas of how to stretch every part of your body, there’s a chart for that. Here’s to a limber 2022, everyone.

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