Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Stretching Exercises

 I love stretching. I love Yoga and Pilates for the simple reason that i get a good stretch. I feel taller, my muscles feel more limber, I ache less after a brutal work out. I love love love stretching. If you think you do not have time for stretching you are really really really mistaken. You do not have time not to stretch.   Stretching, increases blow flow to muscles and the range of motion in your joints to prevent injuries. It improves your flexibility and helps to improve coordination, and anyone who knows me knows that I need help with that. 

I know I say this in almost every post of a work out but before exercise you should WARM-UP which consists of stretching exercises for a minimum of 5-7 minutes. So jog in place, do high knees, do jumping jacks then stretch!  Stretching will prevent injuries while you are working out. 

After exercise you should COOL-DOWN, move side to side slowly, do some punches, gradually bring your heart rate back down then stretch for of 5-7 minutes (longer if you have time, I like to do a good 10-15 min stretch after a long workout).   But this time your muscles are nice and warm and your flexibility is wayyyy greater. A good test is to do the same stretches for cool down that you did for warm up and see how much farther you are able to bend, and move. Not only will your flexibility increase but stretching will help you not feel so sore after an intense work out!


The right way to stretch is slow and relaxed. DO NOT BOUNCE. This can actually cause you to pull the muscle you are trying to stretch.  You should stretch to the point of "MILD TENSION". If you overstretch you will also cause damage. Back off if the stretch feels painful. Hold the stretch for a minimum of 15 seconds each BREATHE slowly and naturally.  Relax the stretch. Stretch one or two more times with each stretch. Try to stretch a little further with each stretch.

Stretches for side of neck:

  1. Sit or stand with arms hanging loosely at sides
  2. Turn head to one side, then the other
  3. Hold for 5 seconds, each side
  4. Repeat 1 to 3 times
person turning head to side

Stretches side of neck

  1. Sit or stand with arms hanging loosely at sides
  2. Tilt head sideways, first one side then the other
  3. Hold for 5 seconds
  4. Repeat 1-3 times
person tilting head sideways

Stretches back of neck

  1. Sit or stand with arms hanging loosely at sides
  2. Gently tilt head forward to stretch back of neck
  3. Hold 5 seconds
  4. Repeat 1-3 times
person tilting head forward

Stretches side of shoulder and back of upper arm

  1. Stand or sit and place right hand on left shoulder
  2. With left hand, pull right elbow across chest toward left shoulder and hold 10 to 15 seconds
  3. Repeat on other side
person stretching arm across chest

Stretches shoulder, middle back, arms, hands, fingers, wrist

  1. Interlace fingers and turn palms out
  2. Extend arms in front at shoulder height
  3. Hold 10 to 20 seconds, relax, and repeat

Stretches triceps, top of shoulders, waist

  1. Keep knees slightly flexed>
  2. Stand or sit with arms overhead
  3. Hold elbow with hand of opposite arm
  4. Pull elbow behind head gently as you slowly lean to side until mild stretch is felt
  5. Hold 10 to 15 sec
  6. Repeat on other side
person holding elbow and stretching to one side

Stretches middle back

  1. Stand with hands on hips
  2. Gently twist torso at waist until stretch is felt
  3. Hold 10 to 15 sec
  4. Repeat on other side
  5. Keep knees slightly flexed
person with hands on hip and turning at waist

Stretches ankles

  1. Stand and hold onto something for balance
  2. Lift right foot and rotate foot and ankle 8 to 10 times clockwise, then 8 to 10 times counterclockwise.
  3. Repeat on other side 
  4. (Note: can also be done sitting)
person lifting foot off ground and moving it in circular motion

Stretches calf

  1. Stand a little way from wall and lean on it with forearms, head resting on hands
  2. Place right foot in front of you, leg bent, left leg straight behind you
  3. Slowly move hips forward until you feel stretch in calf of left leg
  4. Keep left heel flat and toes pointed straight ahead
  5. Hold easy stretch 10 to 20 seconds
  6. Do not bounce
  7. Repeat on other side
  8. Do not hold breath
person stretching calf muscle

Stretches front on thigh (quadriceps)

  1. Stand a little a way from wall and place left hand on wall for support
  2. Standing straight, grasp top of left foot with right hand
  3. Pull heel toward buttock
  4. hold 10 to 20 sec
  5. Repeat on other side
person stretching thigh muscle

Relaxes hamstrings, stretches calves, achilles, and ankles

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart
  2. Keep heels flat, toes pointed straight ahead
  3. Assume bent knee position (quarter squat)
  4. Hold 30 sec
person in quarter-squat position

Stretches inner thigh, groin

  1. Stand with feet pointed straight ahead, a little more than shoulder-width apart
  2. Bend right knee slightly and move left hip downward toward right knee
  3. Hold 10 to 15 seconds
  4. Repeat on other side
  5. If necessary, hold on to something (chair, etc.) for balance
person standing, bending one knee slightly

Stretches side of hip, hamstrings

  1. Sit on floor with right leg straight out in front
  2. Bend left leg, cross left foot over, place outside right knee
  3. Pull left knee across body toward opposite shoulder
  4. Hold 10 to 20 seconds
  5. Repeat on other side
  6. Breathe easily
person doing floor exercises

Stretches lower back, side of hip, and neck

  1. Sit on floor with left leg straight out in front
  2. Bend right leg, cross right foot over, place outside left knee
  3. Bend left elbow and rest it outside right knee
  4. Place right hand behind hips on floor
  5. Turn head over right shoulder, rotate upper body right
  6. Hold 10 to 15 seconds
  7. Repeat on other side
  8. Breathe in slowly
person doing floor exercises

Stretches back of leg and lower back

  1. Sit on floor, legs straight out at sides
  2. Bend left leg in at knee
  3. Slowly bend forward from hips toward foot of straight leg until you feel slight stretch
  4. Do no dip head forward at start of stretch
  5. Hold this developmental stretch 10 to 20 seconds
  6. Repeat on other side
  7. Foot of straight leg upright, ankles and toes relaxed
  8. Use a towel if you cannot easily reach your feet
person doing floor exercises

Stretches shoulders, arms, hands, feet and ankles

  1. Lie on floor, extend arms overhead, keep legs straight
  2. Reach arms and legs in opposite directions
  3. Stretch 5 sec, relax
person lying on back on floor stretching straight out with arms overhead

Enjoy the stretch!  Have a very fit day!

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