Regular exercise is very important, and for many there are few experiences as gratifying as a good workout. Making sure you close out your session with proper stretches can optimize your results by alleviating muscle fatigue and reducing strain. Stretching also conditions your body to be flexible and supple in general, which will aid your movement not only during a workout but throughout the rest of your schedule as well. If you are looking for stretches to implement, consider the following ideas:
Lying Knee Twist
Lie flat on your back. Slowly bend your right knee, pulling it toward your chest until your thigh is almost perpendicular with the rest of your body. At this point, gently cross your knee across your body, so it is reaching toward the ground to your left. You should feel the stretch in your back and your right leg/buttock. Hold this stretch for about ten seconds, then slowly roll onto your back, so it is again flat on the floor, and lower your right leg back to the floor as well. Repeat the stretch five times for each side.
Prone Leg Lifts
Lie face down on the floor. Clasp your hands together and rest your forehead on them. Keeping your legs and especially knees straight, lift your feet toward the ceiling about 1-2 inches. Hold this stretch for about five seconds, then lower both legs back to the ground. Repeat this lifting stretch five times.
Cat and Cow
Get on your hands and knees, with your palms flat on the floor lined below your shoulders, and your hips situated directly above your knees. Inhale a deep breath, and while doing so gently round your back, so it rises toward the ceiling. Hold this stretch for about ten seconds. Then give a long exhale, while doing so gently arch your back toward the floor, so it is your tailbone and chest that is stretching toward the ceiling. Again, hold the position for about ten seconds. Slowly alternate this stretch of your spine for five repetitions.
Upright Standing Tilt
Stand upright with your feet shoulder width apart and your arms resting by your sides. Raise your right arm straight above your head, with your fingers extended and your palm facing your head. Keeping your feet in place, slowly tilt your upper body to the left until you feel the stretch running down your right side. Hold this stretch for about ten seconds, then gently stand back upright and lower your arm back to your side. Repeat the stretch five times for each side.
Begin by lying face down on your stomach. Your legs should be together and extended. Plant your palms on the floor, on either side of your head while keeping your elbows and forearms flat on the ground. While making sure your hips remain on the ground, slowly push your upper body up, keeping the weight on your forearms. The idea is to gently stretch your lower back, along with your abdominals. Once you have achieved this stretch, hold for about ten seconds, then relax your head back to the floor. Repeat the stretch five times.
Piriformis Seated Stretch
Sit on the ground with your back straight and your legs extended in front of you. Cross your left leg over your right, bending the knee and planting your foot by your right thigh. Slightly rotate your torso to your left, planting your left hand behind your buttocks for support. Reach forward with your right hand, placing the palm on the left side of your left knee. At this point, gently push with your right hand to smoothly rotate your torso’s twist toward your left even further so you can feel a stretch in your back and spine. Hold the stretch for about ten seconds, then slowly rotate your body back to facing forward, uncross your legs back to extending in front of you. Repeat the stretch on the other side of your body, repeating the action three times for each side.
Knee to Chest Stretch
Lie flat on your back. Slowly bend your right knee, pulling the knee toward your chest. Reach with your arms and lace your fingers around your right thigh, knee, or shin, depending on your desired comfort and flexibility. Gently pull the knee to your chest. This is meant to stretch your lower back, along with the muscles in your bottom and the back of your thighs. Once you have the stretch, slowly lower your leg back to the ground. Repeat the stretch five times for each leg.
Happy Baby Rock
Lie flat on your back. Slowly bend both knees, so they go in the direction of your armpits. Go as far as you can while maintaining your back’s contact with the floor. Extend your hands and grab each foot while keeping your arms wrapped around the outer side of each leg. Gently rock side to side, so you are lifting alternating sides of your back. You should never roll to the point where your weight causes you to fall to any one side. Maintain this slow rocking motion for about fifteen seconds. When finished, gently release your feet and slowly lower your legs back to the ground.
Get on your hands and knees, with your knees just slightly wider than hip distance apart. Turn your feet inward, so they touch each other. Bend your knees and rest your weight backward, so you are assuming a comfortable seated position on your feet. At this point extend both arms forward into a relaxing stretch. Hold this position for about twenty seconds, then return back to your hands and knees. Repeat the stretching pose three times.
Stretching is of immense benefit to your body in general, and some may argue that a good workout is incomplete without it. If you need advice on other stretches you can try or the proper form while doing them, there are trainers and medical professionals everywhere who would be happy to assist. If you aren’t already, start stretching regularly toward a better life today!