Too many people decide to forgo stretching as part of their program. They get too wrapped up in doing their cardio training, their weight lifting, and other exercises they have planned that they don’t put the time and effort they should be into getting stretching work into the picture.
But, you must. Not only will stretching help to improve your range of motion and ensure that you can complete all the other exercises you do with ease, it’s also going to be critical for making sure that you are preventing injuries as well.
That said, you don’t need to spend hours per week doing stretching exercises. As long as you have a few of the basics stretches down, you can devote 10-15 minutes after each workout session to doing them and know that you are doing your body well.
Here are the top stretches that you should be considering.
With most of us spending a good portion of our day sitting down at desks, our hamstrings are becoming incredibly tight. Over time, this can actually put you at an increased risk for back pain.
A quick stretch of your hamstrings should help to resolve this. To perform this, stand upright and then bend over and reach for your toes, focusing on keeping the knees straight. Or, do it in a seated position, reaching for your toes that way.
Do this multiple times per day and hold each stretch for 10-15 seconds.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Along with your hamstrings, your hip flexors may also become tight and stiff as well. Fortunately, stretching these isn’t all that hard either. Simply get into a lunge position with the knee down on the ground. Lunge forward until you feel that light stretch in the hip flexor and then hold this, taking a few deep breaths in and out.
Once one side is done, switch sides and repeat.
Low Back Stretch
Stiff backs are not only a leading cause of injury but can also keep you from performing exercises in the gym properly as well. Every so often, do what’s referred to as a cat stretch. Get down on your knees and hands and then hunch your back over as you sit back onto your heels. You should feel a deep stretch all throughout the back, including your lower back and feel much better upon coming out of it.
Do this one a few times per day as well to help keep your back in top shape.
The chest is another major muscle group you’ll want to ensure you are stretching regularly. To perform a chest stretch, simply place one arm up against a wall so that your underarm is as close to the wall as possible and the warm is stretched out behind you.
Now twist into the wall, feeling the stretch in your upper body as you do. Hold this and take a few deep breaths in and out. Then switch sides and repeat.
Finally, don’t forget about those calves. They are being worked every single time you take a step forward, so they are without a doubt experiencing some tightness. To stretch your calves, simply place your toes up against a wall and lean into the wall until you feel that deep stretch throughout the calf muscle.
Note that you can also do a stretch by placing the foot on a step, balancing on the toes and letting the heel drop until you can feel the stretch taking place in the calf.
So take some time and get these stretches done today. You will feel all the better because of it and will help to ensure you have complete range of motion in the years to come.
[Image via Getty]