In my previous blog post, we learned the basics of stretching; now it’s time to get down to the specifics. Here are 11 stretches that you can perform every day to improve your overall flexibility and help decrease the likelihood of nagging injuries. We’ll start from the feet and work our way up.
- Prone Calf Stretch:
Begin in a push-up position. Next, keep your legs straight as you walk your hands backward toward your feet. Bend at the hips so your butt rises into the air while the heels of your feet press into the ground. Continue to walk your hands backward until a comfortable stretch is felt in both legs. You can increase the stretching sensation by bending one knee while keeping the other straight.
- Side-Lying Quad Stretch:
As the name suggests, start by lying on one side. For an example, let’s begin on our left side to stretch the right leg. Pull the heel of your right leg toward your butt. Grab your ankle with your right hand and add some additional pressure. Be sure to keep your knees together to perform the stretch properly. Once you’re finished with the right leg, flip over and perform this exercise with the left leg.
- Seated Hamstring Stretch:
To begin this stretch you need to be in a seated position. Keeping your right leg straight out in front of you, bend your left knee and bring your left heel into your groin. Now, keep your back straight as you bend forward at the hips. You can reach forward with both hands, but be careful to not round your back. Repeat with the left leg.
- Figure-Four Piriformis Stretch:
This stretch starts with you lying on your back. Place your right ankle on your left thigh just above your knee—it should look like you’re making the number four with your legs. Next, start lifting your left leg to your chest until you feel a stretch in the back of your right leg. If you would like an additional stretch, reach your left arm and place it behind your left knee while you reach your right arm through the hole that is being made by your legs and also place it behind your left knee. You can now pull your knee close to your chest. Repeat this process for the other leg.
- Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch:
Kneel down on your right leg with your left leg in front of you. Your left leg should be in front of you so that your knee and hip both form a 90-degree angle. Keep your upper body straight up and down. An important part of this stretch is to keep your pelvis in a neutral position. This means it isn’t rotated forward or backward, it is right in the middle. Now that we have the correct position, start to lean forward. You should feel a stretch in your right hip. If you are not feeling enough of a stretch, simply raise your right arm straight into the air. This will increase the stretch sensation. Repeat this process on the opposite leg.
- Standing IT Band Stretch:
To stick with the theme let’s begin with our right side. Place your weight on your right leg. Next, cross your left leg in front of your right and bend your right knee slightly. Finally, perform a side bend to the left. You should feel this stretch in your right hip. Repeat this exercise for the left leg.
- Standing Upper Back Stretch:
Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, place arms so that they are straight out in front of you. Grasp your left wrist with your right hand. Now, begin to round your shoulders forward so that you are pushing your arms out away from you. You should feel this stretch right between your shoulder blades.
- Standing Pec Stretch:
For this stretch, we will be doing almost the exact opposite of the Standing Upper Back Stretch. Clasp your hands together behind your back. Now, instead of rounding your shoulders forward, squeeze your shoulder blades together so that your chest is sticking out. For an additional stretch you can lift your arms toward the ceiling.
- Standing Triceps Stretch:
Again, stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Reach your right arm straight up and bend your elbow back behind your head. Now, place your left hand on your right elbow and apply slight pressure until you feel a comfortable stretch in the back of your right arm. Be sure to repeat the process for the left arm.
- Standing Bicep Stretch:
This is the only stretch that will require some “equipment.” Fortunately, this equipment is simply a wall. Stand facing a wall and place your right hand flat on the wall so that your arm is fully extended and your fingers are pointed to the right. Your arm should be at shoulder level. When you have this position, rotate your body counterclockwise until you feel the stretch in your bicep. When you have completed the stretch for your right arm, switch and perform it on the left.
- Chicken Wing Neck Stretch:
For our last stretch you will again be in a standing position. Reach your right arm behind your back. Grab your right wrist with your left hand and pull slightly to the left. It should look like you have a little chicken wing on the left-hand side. The next step is to drop your left ear to your left shoulder. You should feel this on the right side of your neck. Try not to hike your right shoulder up, as this will lessen the stretch. Hold this for the proper amount of time and switch sides.
And there we have it! You can now perform a full-body stretch routine in the comfort of your own home, the office or pretty much anywhere in less time than it takes to watch your favorite TV show. Performing stretching exercises on a daily basis is an easy, effective way to take care of your body that will definitely pay off later in life.