Stretching may not be the most exciting part of a workout, but it as equally important for a balanced exercise routine as quality and cardio work. Working a stretching practice into your schedule will improve your flexibility, lessen strain, and eventually make your exercises more efficient and safe.
Tight muscles can cause unnecessary strain on the neighboring joints. Stretching can help maintain and improve the length of our muscles so that we can make the most of fitness routines without muscle pain.
Stretching isn’t trendy or intense, and it won’t give you the same feeling as a run or HIIT class will. That doesn’t mean it’s not necessary. It can be awkward and time-consuming, and many people skip it altogether. By working muscles without stretching them, your muscles could become imbalance, which could lead to injury as muscles and joints try to overcompensate for the ones that aren’t properly engaged. This can lead to strains and discomfort.
When your muscles are stretched, they are less confined and have more extensive range of movement (ROM). For example, with more ROM in the hips and knees, you can sink further into a squat. Having a full range of movement can help you accomplish more and do your workouts correctly.
Fortunately, improving your flexibility isn’t hard. It just requires an investment. Take a look at these stretching exercises that can help build more flexibility.
1. Standing Hamstring Stretch
- Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-distance apart, knees bent alight, arms relaxed at your sides.
- Exhale as you bend from the hips, lowering your head to the floor. Keeping your upper body relaxed.
- Wrap your hands to the backs of your legs and hold the stretch between 45 and 120 seconds.
- Gently bend your knees and stand up slowly.
2. Lunge With Spinal Twist
- Stand up with your feet touching.
- Take a large step forward with your left foot, creating a a staggered stance.
- Bend your left knee into a lunge, keeping your right leg straight behind you. Your toes should stay on the ground and you should feel a stretch in your front thigh muscle.
- Put your right hand on the floor and twist your upper body to the left. Reach your left arm up towards the sky.
- Hold for 30 to 120 seconds.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
3. Triceps Stretch
- Sit or stand comfortably with your arms arms stretched up over your head.
- Bend your right arm at the elbow and reach your hand towards your upper back.
- Reach your left hand over and grab just below your right elbow.
- Gently pull your right elbow down and toward your head.
- Switch arms and repeat.
4. Figure Four Stretch
- Lie on your back, bend your knees, and put your feet flat on the floor.
- Cross your left foot over your right quad.
- Lift your right leg off the floor. Grab onto the back of your right leg and gently pull it toward your chest.
- When you feel a comfortable stretch, hold there.
- Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
- Switch sides and repeat.
5. Butterfly Stretch
- Sit up straight on the floor with the soles of your feet together, knees bent out to sides.
- Grab your ankles or feet, activate your abs, and slowly bend your body forward as far as you can while pressing your knees to the floor.
- If your muscles are too tight to bend, try just pressing your knees down with your hands.
- Hold the rep for 60 to 120 seconds.