Stretching offers a whole gamut of benefits, whether you’re preparing for some strenuous exercise, just finished exercising, or just want to get your circulation going. Here are five easy stretches that should form part of your everyday fitness routine.
Stretches are best performed precisely, gradually and not in a great rush. Doing them right will increase your flexibility, stamina and strength.
Getting ready for some serious physical activity? The neck roll stretches the muscles in the neck, which we often forget about… until they make themselves felt.
The neck roll is an easy one, and simply requires you to stand up straight, letting your shoulders drop naturally. Now let your head hang forward. Slowly turn your head to one side until your chin is close to your shoulder. Hold this for a few seconds, let your head hang again, and turn it to the other side. Repeat this sequence a couple of times.
Stretching your spine regularly can help improve your posture, and can also help you relax.
Get down on all fours with your legs hip-width apart from one another. Your arms should be two or three inches in front of your shoulders, and your knees should be at a right angle to your hips. Now take a great deep breath, and arch your back as you exhale while letting your head and neck hang down between your shoulders. Keep this position for about 10 seconds.
Just like your spine, your shoulders influence your posture. And since we use our shoulder muscles in almost everything we do, it’s important to ensure that they’re flexible and up to the challenges we put them through.
Shoulder stretches are easy, and should be done while standing up straight. Cross one arm in front of the body. Grip the elbow of the stretched arm in your other elbow’s crux (in other words, bend your free arm up to your body until you’ve gripped the stretched arm). Now pull the stretched arm toward the body, and hold for a couple of seconds. Repeat this stretch a couple of times for both arms.
Lie on your front. Keep your legs together and place your hands on either side of your shoulders, just like you would do with a push-up. Lift your upper body off the floor until your arms are straight. Hold for 30 seconds, and relax.
In layman’s terms, the quadriceps is the muscle of your upper leg. It extends from the thigh to just above the knee, and can easily be given a good stretching, thus:
Stand up straight, with your feet hip-width apart, next to a wall or chair – or anything else that can help you hold your balance. Bring one leg back and grab hold of your ankle. Pull your ankle toward your buttocks while keeping your leg in line with the one you’re standing on. Hold this position for a few seconds and release. You’ll feel the tension in your quadriceps mount as you stretch the muscle. Alternate between both legs a couple of times.