As you probably already know, stretching is an important part of a workout. Although I’ll admit that this part sometimes may be not so fun, because all I wanna do after my workout is to rush out of the gym. But I do my best and devote extra 10 minutes for a cool-down.
Studies have shown that stretching has such benefits as mobility (it can help increase your range of motion), increased flexibility (it helps you maintain proper position in any exercise). Over time, stretching can also decrease the risk of tendon problems and injuries. And it will help you to recover faster after a workout.
There are many techniques for stretching, but some are more popular and more effective. I’m going to show you my favorite stretches – try them after your regular cardio or strength workout.
1) Calf stretch. Stand facing a wall about two feet away, stagger your stance and place one foot forward. Lean forward and place your hands on the wall. Keep your heel, hip and head in a straight line. Shift your weight to your back foot until you feel a stretch in your calf. Hold for 20-30 seconds and switch sides.
2) Standing hamstring stretch. Take one step forward with one leg. Now straighten it and place both hands on your thigh just above the knee. Bend the other knee and rest your weight on it. Slowly lean forward into the stretch and hold for 15-30 seconds. Repeat with the opposite leg.
3) Shoulder stretch. Reach one arm across your body and hold it straight. With the other hand grasp your elbow and pull it across your body towards your chest.
4) Side neck stretch. Stand with your shoulders relaxed, then gently tilt your head towards your shoulder. Assist the stretch with a gentle pull on the side of the head.
5) Triceps stretch. Reach your hand behind your head, grasp your elbow with other hand and gently pull. Hold for 10-20 seconds, then switch sides.
6) Upper back stretch. Clasp your fingers together with your thumbs pointing down. Round your shoulders and reach your hands forward. Hold for 15-30 seconds
7) Upward Stretch. Main muscle worked: shoulders; other muscles: chest, lats. Extend both hands straight above your head, palms touching. Slowly push your hands up and back, keeping your back straight. Hold this position for 15-30 seconds, feeling a stretch in your shoulders.
8) Cat stretch. Muscle targeted: lower back. Position yourself on all fours on the floor. Pull your belly in and arch your back up as high as possible, letting your head drop. Hold for 15 seconds.
9) Child’s pose. Main muscle worked: lower back. After a Cat stretch go for child’s pose. Get on your hands and knees, walk your hands in front of you. Lower your buttocks down to sit on your heels and rest your forehead on the floor. Keep your breathing normal. Mentally relax your lower back and try to feel stretch in it – “breathe” into your back. Hold for 1 minute.
10) Knee hugs. Main muscle worked: lower back; other muscles: glutes. Lie down on your back and pull the knee(s) towards your chest as far as comfortable. Try not to put too much pressure on your knee joints with your arms. Hold for 20 seconds. Repeat with other leg if you are doing single knee hugs.
11) Seated floor hamstring stretch. Sit on the floor with one leg extended in front of you and other leg bent with your foot against your inner thigh. Lean forward from your hips and reach for your toes until you feel a stretch in the hamstring. Hold for 15 seconds, then repeat with the other side.
Feels good, right? Now your muscles will be thankful to you. Just remember that not all muscles need to be stretched post-workout. Focus on hitting only those areas that are really tight either from the workout or from daily posture.
Good job guys. See you soon!