As much as stretching might not be something that you look forward to in your workouts, it’s as important as the other exercises in your fitness program. Taking some time to stretch your body every day will help to reduce muscle tightness, boost flexibility, and make your workouts safer and more efficient. Also, stretching will help to increase blood supply throughout the body, making sure that your muscles receive the necessary nutrition while facilitating swift waste removal. And the good news is that incorporating some stretching exercises into your workout is not as hard as some people tend to assume. Here are some easy stretching exercises that you can include in your workouts:
Quads are used in almost all leg movements. They work together with other muscles such as the glutes and hamstrings, to promote efficient jumping and jumping. Some of the exercises that involve the quads include leg presses, lunges, and squats. Basically, every leg exercise will involve the quads. Powerful, strong quads can help you to maintain proper balance when you are sparring, maintain stamina during long runs and enhance safety during weightlifting. But just like other muscles in your body, your quadriceps are prone to injuries. They can easily become painful and inflamed with frequent use. And that’s why you need to stretch them properly before you start any workouts.
Whether you are specifically working your quadricep muscles or you are getting ready for a high-intensity leg workout, stretching your quads prior to your workouts will warm them up and help you to get the most out of your workouts. By warming your quads properly before your workouts, you will significantly minimize the risk of overuse injuries. When it comes to stretching exercises for the quads, you have numerous options to choose from. Some of the most common exercises include the lying quad stretch, standing quad stretch, prone quad stretch, the kneeling quad stretch, and the frog pose. As a beginner, start slow and then increase the intensity of your stretches gradually.
Calf muscles play an important role when you are running or walking. They help to push your legs forward when you are running while providing the braking power that you need when it’s time to stop. Strong calves will help to plant your feet firmly on the ground, giving you a solid platform for lifting weights. Also, if you are looking to improve your performance in the boxing ring, then you will definitely need to strengthen your calves. On the other hand, if you have weak calves, then you will have difficulty working out, competing in sports or even accomplishing basic daily tasks. Also, weak calves can lead to numerous leg maladies like shin splints, Achilles tendonitis, calf strains, as well as plantar fasciitis, hip and hamstring problems.
Due to their important role in walking, running and standing, your calves need plenty of maintenance. And that’s why it’s important to stretch them regularly. Calf stretches will prepare your legs for your workout sessions, leading to explosive lifts while reducing the risk of injuries. There are several types of calf stretches that you can do, regardless of where you are. They include the seated calf stretch, the wall calf stretch, towel calf stretch, and the downward-facing dog calf stretch, just to name a few.
Whether you are a CrossFit athlete, a passionate yogist, a runner or just someone who works out casually, your hamstrings have a direct impact on how you perform. If your hamstrings are immobile and weak, your agility and explosiveness will also be affected. Stretching your hamstrings regularly will prevent or minimize lower back pain, improve overall mobility, and help to minimize delayed-onset muscle soreness. And that’s why it’s important to keep your hamstrings loose. With that in mind, here are some hamstring stretches that you can incorporate into your workouts.
- Toe touching: This is one of the easiest ways of stretching your hamstring muscles. To perform this exercise, you just need to touch your toes while standing and hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds or more. Make sure your hips are positioned directly over your feet.
- Supine hamstring stretch: This method entails lying on the back and lifting one leg straight up. As you bring the leg up, you will be stretching the hamstring muscles, helping to loosen them up and relieve tension.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Hip flexors are a group of muscles that connect the abdomen, pelvis, and leg. They play a vital role when it comes to walking, standing, running and even sitting. But despite their importance, these muscles tend to be neglected. If you spend most of your time seated, your hip flexors will eventually become weak. They might also become tight, leading to poor posture as well as back pain. Runners with weak hip flexors are at a high risk of suffering from knee, foot and ankle injuries. Without a doubt, they play an important role in your body. Stretching your hip flexors regularly will help to strengthen and loosen them up, thus preventing injuries. Standing stretches, knee stretches, supine stretches and seated stretches are among the exercises that you can perform to stretch your hip flexors and increase their flexibility.
Whether you are a long-distance runner, a passionate hiker, or an accountant, keeping your knees flexible is crucial to enjoying an active, healthy life. The knees feature a combination of ligaments, muscles, and tendons, all working together to enable you to walk, bend, stand, run, stand, or sit properly. Therefore, keeping them in tip-top shape can mean all the difference between constant pain and comfortable life. In fact, knee stretching and strengthening remain one of the most effective non-invasive treatments for people with osteoarthritis. You should ensure that you stretch at least once per day. You can also combine your knee stretches with other exercises such as quad stretches, hamstring stretches, straight leg stretches and hip flexor stretches.
Biceps and Triceps Stretch
Every time you extend your elbows or your arms, you engage your biceps and triceps. Failing to stretch your biceps and triceps regularly can lead to muscle tightness in your arms, thus limiting your flexibility and range of motion. If you play games like golf or you enjoy activities like strength training, tight triceps and biceps can impair your performance while increasing the risk of injury. To avoid such issues, you can do basic biceps and triceps stretches like standing biceps stretch, overhead triceps stretch, seated biceps stretch, as well as crossover triceps stretch. To minimize the risk of injury, don’t do biceps and triceps stretches when your body is cold. Instead, you should do some biking, walking, jacks or jumping, or other light aerobic activities, for 3 to 5 minutes. Such activities will increase blood flow to your triceps and biceps, thus helping to minimize injuries. Each stretch should last at least 30 seconds. Also, make sure you stretch your arms at least 3 times per week, to maintain that flexibility.
Upper Back Stretches
The shoulders and the upper back are involved in almost all workouts. Therefore, if you forgo upper back stretches, you are putting yourself at risk of injuries, pain, and strains, which could affect your workouts negatively. If your back is injured, it will be almost impossible to complete any workout in the gym. And that’s why pre-workout warm-ups are important for your upper back. These warmups will not only loosen the muscles in your upper back, but they will also prepare your body for any workouts that you will do after that. Stretching your upper back will also help you to maintain proper body posture while ensuring you can breathe comfortably. Some of the upper back stretches that you can incorporate in your pre-workout warmups include child’s pose, neck rotations, butterfly wings, standing arm slides, and chair rotations.
- Neck rotations and twists: If you spend most of your time sitting in front of a computer, you might experience some tension in your upper back. Neck twists and rotations can help you to relieve this tension. To perform this exercise, you should look straight ahead and let your arms hang by the sides. Your shoulders should be relaxed. You should then proceed to tilt your down as if you are staring at your chest. Hold that position for 20 seconds, and then tilt your head up to face the ceiling. You can also increase your range of motion by tilting your head sideways.
- Butterfly wings: If you are looking for a stretch exercise that will directly target your upper back, then you should try performing this one. To perform the butterfly wings, you should place your palms on the shoulder, and then move your elbows in a circular motion. This movement will contract and stretch your lower back, thus helping to relieve any tension that you might have been experiencing.
Stretching exercises should be part of your fitness or training program. They will improve your efficiency in completing various daily activities, improve your posture and most importantly, minimize the risk of injuries when you are performing physical activities. Stretching exercises will also reduce muscle soreness, improve coordination, and leave you feeling good, both physical and mentally.