Love working out, but maybe don’t know how to properly stretch? Then read on my fellow trainees!
Stretching is an extremely underused way to prevent injury. I am just like all of you, when a workout is finished, I am done. If the workout is hard enough, as soon as I finish I want to collapse, or get something to replenish my thirst and massive appetite I just worked up. But, I know better. And I am sure all of you know as well how crucial a proper cool down is. It not only prevents injury, but helps your body with reducing soreness and assists in making the next training session just as beneficial. Below are 5 stretches that help with the most common sites of soreness. I recommend doing 2 sets of 30 seconds for each stretch.
- Hamstrings, hamstrings, hamstrings. I cannot stress enough how important it is to stretch this muscle! The hamstrings are such a large part of the body that connect to so many other muscle groups that many aches and pains come from tight hamstrings. For example back pain can be result of tight hamstrings, and this can be reduced with two minutes of stretching a day! Anyone who has had back pain can testify that it affects almost everything you do and if two minutes a day can help with this pain. Why not give it a try? My favorite way to stretch the hamstrings is to crouch down on one knee while sticking the other leg straight out in front of you. As you become more flexible you can lean into the leg that is straight in front of you and begin to work into a deeper stretch.
- Hip flexors. Tight hips can result from a multitude of things. Distance runners often get tight hips from running. But it can also be a result of crossing your legs while sitting. Anyone who had a desk job is probably guilty of sitting with crossed legs, I know I do it all the time at the office! One of the best stretches for this is to get into a lunge position with one knee touching the ground. Lean forward over the knee that is off the ground and gently let your ankle fall to the side. As your hips start to loosen up, you can lean forward more and cause a deeper stretch.
- Soreness in your lower back? As there are not a lot of stretches for the lower back I’ve found this one to be very helpful. Lay flat on the ground and pull one leg up to your chest and then bring it across your body. Let it hang and press down if you feel you need a deeper stretch.
- Tight glutes? Maybe the instructor had you do what felt like a million squats yesterday and now you can barely sit without cringing? Well this is a great one for stretching out the glutes. Sit down on the ground with both legs out in of you. Pull one leg up to your chest and cross your foot over the opposite leg. Wrap your arms around the leg that you brought up and squeeze towards your chest. The closer you bring your leg to your chest the deeper the stretch will feel.
- Last but not least, arms. How do you stretch your arms? At the end of most workouts stretching is tailored toward the lower body. Most times the lower body is used more but what about those days when you swear you did 200 push-ups and your arms feel like noodles? Well here is a good one for your triceps and biceps. For the triceps bring your elbow up as close as you can to your ear, then let your arm break at the elbow and pull the elbow back with the opposite arm. For the triceps make your arm straight and bring across your body and pull it close to you with the opposite arm.
These are just a few stretches out of the hundreds that are out there! Doing any of these stretches at the end of a workout can help prevent injury and give you the ability to have multiple good workouts in the same week. I know time is of the essence but if you did all these stretches for the recommended amount of time it would only take 10 minutes. And your body will thank you! But trust me, as much as I know 10 minutes is not that much time, it’s hard to designate 10 extra minutes to stretching at the end of the workout. So what would I recommend? Stretch the muscles that you really feel will be sore the next day. That way you prevent from being too sore in one area!