While regular exercise is important, flexibility training is just as an essential health-related component of fitness. Any personal trainer or fitness expert will tell you that the major short- and long-term stretching benefits include better posture, muscular relaxation, better circulation, fewer aches, and pains.
It’s important to stretch before a workout to prevent injuries, as well as to improve performance, but you shouldn’t skip stretching afterward either. Stretching after a workout will reduce muscle soreness, and will help your muscles get back to their original length.
Here are the best tips on how to stretch for any type of workout on a regular basis:
There are two ways to do the hamstring stretch. You can either split your legs apart in a seated position and try to make the stretch as intense as possible by pulling your toe towards your body, flexing your quads, and reaching as far as you can.
Or, another option is to do a standing hamstring stretch with your feet hip-width apart, having your knees slightly bent, and arms by your sides. Lower your head toward the floor with your arms wrapped around the backs of your legs. Hold for approximately 1 minute.
Stand upright with your feet together, shoulders back, flat back, and take a large step forward with your left leg, lowering your hips toward the floor by bending both knees to 90 degrees. The right knee should point toward but not touch the ground, while you bring your back foot forward to return to a standing position.
Lunge forward with your right, then with your left foot, and continue alternating legs. This way you challenge your stability while engaging your core, glutes, and legs. Walking lunge help stretching your hip flexors as well, warming them up for any workout.
The triceps stretch focuses on the back of the upper arm and stretches the triceps muscles.
How to do it? Sit, kneel, or stand tall with your one arm straighten vertically as you bend it at the elbow to place it down the top middle of your back. Reach below with your other arm and try to hook your hands behind your back. Keep your back straight, and hold 10 to 15 seconds.
Do the spinal twist to release tension in both your chest and your lower back. It’s a great full-body stretch done in a simple lying position with your knees bent up, and your arms extended out to your sides. Cross your left leg over your right, and slowly drop both knees to your right as you turn your head to your left. Bring your legs back to center, and continue alternating sides.
The standing version of pushing against a wall is very popular, however, you can also do calf stretching by pressing against the ground under various angles of your preference.
Calf stretching will be your favorite exercise if you do high volume cardio or running, as these activities usually cause very tight calves.
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