Derval O’Rourke: My favourite stretching routine and this weekend's recipes

This week I’m sharing a simple stretch routine to loosen out the limbs. Recipe wise it’s an oriental chicken stir fry plus some delicious baked peaches that make the perfect healthy dessert.

It’s important to remember that our bodies can’t always tell the difference between a physical stressor and a mental one. Exercise is important for health and well being, doing the right amount, at the right intensity and at the right time are key. Exercise is an amazing outlet, but it is also a physical stressor and sometimes forcing intense workouts when you have a crazy schedule can just add to stress levels.

My top tip for dealing with this is to try schedule your longer runs or more intense workouts on the days where your schedule is quieter and on the busy days just focus on being kind to yourself and moving your body in a gentler way like a yoga or pilates class.

Pictures: Leah Barbour

This week I wanted to share my favourite stretching routine, it changes depending on where I’m feeling tight or sore and some days I’ll hold a certain stretch longer than others but these are my go to stretches.

Hold each stretch for 40-60 seconds.

Walk outs: Start with feet shoulder width apart. Bend your knees slightly and place both hands on the floor in front of your toes. Begin walking your hands out, one after another until you reach a high plank position. Keeping your core engaged walk your hands back to the starting position. Repeat x 5.

Striders with reach: Begin in a push up position and bring your right foot to the outside of your right hand. Lower the back leg down if desired. Place your left hand onto the floor just underneath your shoulder and open your right hand up towards the sky. Repeat x 5 each side.

Pidgeon pose (modified): Begin on all fours. Bring your right leg behind you and lean your torso forward, placing your forearms on the mat. Open your left knee outward to the left — your left ankle might need to slide forward, so your pelvis can lower toward the floor. Bend your elbows to deepen your stretch.

Hip flexor: Set yourself up in a split kneeling position. Keep a neutral pelvis by tucking your pubic bone forwards. Squeeze the glute of the back leg. For a more intense stretch, raise the hand of the leg that’s behind making sure to keep your core engaged and ribs drawn in.

Thread the needle: Begin on all fours, wrists under shoulders and knees underneath hip points. Slide the right hand under the left arm. so that the right shoulder and head rest comfortably on the floor. Reach out through your. There should be no pressure on the neck. Come out of the stretch slowly.

Figure four: Lay on your back, knees bent and ankles in line with your shoulders. Cross right leg over left thigh. Grasp back of left thigh with both hands. Pull left leg toward chest. Repeat with opposite leg.

Lying hamstring stretch: Lie on your back and raise your right leg towards the ceiling. Hook a resistance band or dressing gown tie around your foot near the ball of your toes. Keeping your left leg bent with your foot on the floor. Focus on straightening the leg with the band around it towards the ceiling. Bend and straighten the leg a few times.

Child’s pose: Starting on all fours, bring your knees about hip width apart and your big toes to touch. Lower your bum towards your heels. Walk your hands away from you, allow your chest to sink down between your thighs and your forehead to come to the floor if it can, if not use a pillow or block. Inhale to lengthen the spine and exhale to sink into the stretch.

Triceps stretch: Stand tall with feet shoulder width apart. Bend your elbow and reach down for the back of your left shoulder. Use your right hand to gently push your left elbow back. Keep your elbow close to your head, chin up and shoulders and neck straight. Swap sides and repeat.

Deltoid stretch: Reach your left arm across your body at chest height. Support the left arm with your right elbow. Use your right arm to pull the left arm closer to your chest to increase the stretch.

Fitspiration: @yogawithadrienne

Adriene Mishler is an actress, yoga teacher and entrepreneur from Austin, Texas. Her YouTube channel has over 2 million subscribers. It has a huge library of free videos that range from 10 minutes right up to full practices and there is something to suit all abilities. I love her mantra ‘find what feels good’ and the fact that all you need to get started is mat, one of her videos and your lovely self.

Follow me on Instagram or Facebook for more inspiration to keep you eating healthy and moving daily. Take control of your health with my free 10 food and fitness plan available on www.derval.ie

Oriental chicken stir fry

This is perfect for a quick, tasty and healthy mid week meal. Last time I made this I brought the leftovers in a lunch box to a meeting the next day and it was gorgeous. Use the recipe as a rough guide to quantities and flavour.

Serves: 6

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce

500g chicken breast, sliced into strips

Salt & pepper

3 tbsp sunflower oil

½ red pepper, roughly chopped

½ yellow pepper, roughly chopped

½ green pepper, roughly chopped

3 medium carrots, finely chopped

150g broccoli, cut into florets

1 bunch of spring onions, roughly chopped

1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated

1 garlic clove, crushed

For the sauce:

2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce

2 tbsp dark soy sauce

1 tbsp corn flour

200ml chicken stock

Method:

To a small bowl, add 2tbsp sweet chilli sauce along with the chicken strips and season well. In a large frying pan heat 1 tbsp of the oil then add the chicken and fry over a high heat until golden brown and just cooked through. Transfer to a plate.

To make the sauce, add the sweet chilli sauce, soy sauce, and corn flour to a small bowl and stir until smooth. Blend in the stock and season well.

Heat the remaining oil in a frying. Add the vegetables and stir fry for 3-4 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic and spring onions and stir fry for 3-4 minutes until just cooked.

Add the chicken and sauce and toss together for 2 minutes.

Serve with rice or noodles and enjoy.

Roasted peaches with cinnamon, honey and star anise

This recipe is so simple and it makes for a pretty healthy dessert. It’ll take just 20 minutes for the peaches to bake and they will send the most amazing aroma wafting through your kitchen.

Serves: 4

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

4-5 peaches, halved, stone removed and cut into wedges

2 cinnamon sticks

2 star anise

3-4 tbsp runny honey

Natural or Greek yoghurt, to serve

Method:

Heat the oven to 190 degrees.

Arrange the peaches on a non stick baking tray. Add the spices and drizzle over the honey. Bake for 10-20 minutes until just tender and slightly caramelised around the edges.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly. Serve with a generous dollop of yoghurt and enjoy.


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