10 Stretches to Keep you Fit for Life
1. HIP FLEXOR/QUAD STRETCH
Lunge forward on your front leg and keep your back straight. The hip flexor/quad stretch is extremely beneficial for athletes. This stretch encompasses other individual muscles such as the inner hip, thigh muscles, glutes and the muscles of the inner thigh.
2. SWAN STRETCH
Lie face down, bring your hands under your shoulders, and move your arms close to your body. Just push yourself up and feel the stretch. The swan stretch is one of the best stretches you can do after an intense abdominal workout. It stretches your abdominals, quadriceps and hip flexors.
3. STANDING TRICEPS STRETCH
Stand tall or sit upright with your neck and back straight. Place one hand on the lower part of your neck and reach the other hand to your elbow. Use the hand on your elbow to pull your arm backwards. Repeat this with the opposite arm. The triceps stretch is made to help you improve the flexibility in your triceps muscles.
4. FORWARD BEND STRETCH
Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you and reach toward your toes. Make sure you breathe; inhale deeply, then exhale and reach a little further towards your toes. If you are doing the forward bend stretch for the first time, try holding a strap around your feet. This stretch is amazing for releasing tension in your tight hamstrings.
5. LATERAL NECK FLEXION
You can perform the lateral neck flexion in different range of motions. Start by facing forward and stretch your neck, moving your head towards your chest then towards your left and right shoulders, then moving your chin towards your left and right shoulders. The lateral neck flexion stretch helps increase the flexibility and strength of your neck muscles. “The cross-legged neck stretch is a great stretch that can be done throughout the day whether you're at work or about to start/finish a workout,” according to Movement Specialist Joshua Holland. “It's great in that it helps to open up the hips and provides relief to the neck muscles especially after long durations at the computer or on the phone.”
6. LYING HAMSTRING STRETCH
Lie down, lift one straight leg straight up and use your hands to pull your leg towards you, while making sure your leg on the floor stays straight. Hamstring stretches should be done after you exercise. “Stretching the hamstrings before a run can stress the tendons causing possible injury,” Director of Personal Fitness coachingAnna Nemeckay says.
7. SIDE REACH
Stand feet shoulders width apart, put one arm up and the other arm on your hip. Reach over to one side of your body, then repeat on the other side of your body. The side reach targets your latissimus dorsi and teres major muscles. It also stretches your obliques, lower back and rectus abdominis.
8. DOWNWARD DOG HIP FLEXOR STRETCH
Practiced widely with yoga, the downward dog is one of the best stretches to release tension in almost all of your body muscles. Stand up and lead forward, walk your hands out in front of you. Lift up your hips, press into your hands and lean back with your upper thighs. The downward dog helps lengthen your spine and stretch your hamstrings.
9. WRIST FLEXOR STRETCH
For those of you who lift weights, play sports or spend a lot of time typing on a computer, the wrist flexor stretch was made for you. Sit or stand, extend your right arm forward, keeping it at shoulder height. Make sure your elbow is straight, grab your right hand with your left, then slowly pull back on your wrist. Repeat this stretch with the opposite hand. The wrist flexor stretch stretches your forearm.
10. HEEL-TO-BUTT STRETCH
Standing tall, lift your right leg up bending at the knee. Hold your foot with your right hand, then pull your heel to your buttocks. Hold this stretch for 15 seconds then switch to your other leg. The heel-to-butt stretch relieves tension in your quadriceps. *Tip: If you have trouble balancing, use a wall for support.
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