Stretch Pre and Post Workout To Avoid Injury
You should stretch at least five minutes before and after exercising. Pre-workout, you can do stretching warm up exercises explained below, but following your workout, you should do at least three of the exercises listed here. Hold each position for 20-30 seconds. You should feel no pain while doing any stretch exercise. Practice these at home, so you know what you are doing and which ones you like before you hit the gym.
Arm Pull-Back – targets front of the shoulders, chest
Stand with feet shoulder width apart, knees bent slightly, and toes pointing straight ahead. Let arms hang relaxed to either side of your body. Expand the chest and pull shoulders back by squeezing shoulder blades toward each other. Slightly bend elbows as you clasp your hands behind your back. Slowly straighten your arms as you lift your hands upward, stretch with control. Raise your hands until you feel mild tension in the shoulder and chest region. Lower your arms and then bend your elbows and release your hands from one another, stetch with control.
Arm-Across shoulder stretch – targets back of the shoulders, upper back and side of the body
Stand with your feet a comfortable distance apart, knees slightly bent, and toes pointing forward. Raise the left arm in front of you to shoulder height. Reach across your body with this arm and use your right hand, coming from below the raised left arm, to grasp just above the left elbow with the opposite hand. As you assist the left arm across the body with your right hand, keep the arm you’re stretching parallel to the ground. Repeat on the other side.
Arm Press-Down and Inner Thigh Stretch – targets back of the shoulder and upper arm, sides of the body, inner thighs
Locate a stable household fixture or piece of gym equipment that is about hip height. Move your feet about an arm’s length from the fixture and stand with your feet at hip width or slightly wider. Your knees are slightly bent and your toes are pointing forward or slightly turned out. Reach forward and place your hands on the fixture. Move your hips back and allow your elbows to straighten as you settle into the stretch. To stretch the inner thighs, slowly lift your hips from this starting, centered position toward and over your right foot. The right knee may bend slightly and you’ll feel the stretch in your left inner thigh (keep this leg straight). Move back through center position, pause for a moment, and then move your hips over the other foot.
Outer Hip Push-Away – targets outer hips
Locate a stable household fixture or piece of gym equipment that is about hip height. Stand next to the fixture with your feet at hip width or narrower. Your knees are straight but not locked, and toes are pointing forward. Reach to the side with your inside hand (closest to the fixture) and grasp the fixture. Take your outside hand and place it on the fixture, to the outside of the other hand. Bend your inside knee slightly and push your opposite hip directly out to the side, away from the fixture. The weight of your body is on the outside leg. Repeat this on the other side.
Quadriceps and Hip Flexor Stretch – targets front of thigh and hip
Stand close to a bench, chair, wall, or other solid object. Assist your balance with one hand. Bend one knee and lift your heel towards your buttocks. Reach back with your same side hand and grasp the top of your foot. Keeping the inner thighs close together, slowly pull your heel toward your buttocks until you feel a gentle stretch in front of your thigh. To stretch your hip flexors, draw your leg back (extend your hip) by tightening the buttocks muscle. Then lighten your abdominals and attempt to roll your hips under you. Repeat with other leg.
Standing Hamstring Stretch – back of the thigh
Stand on a level surface and extend one leg in front of you. Keep the bottom of the foot in contact with the ground. With your hands resting lightly on the front of your thighs, bend your back knee and bend forward slightly until you feel a slight stretch in the back of your thigh. Be sure to “hinge” from your hip joint rather than bending at your waist or spine. As you lean forward with your upper body, feel as though you are sitting back into an invisible chair. Repeat with other leg.
Standing Gluteus Stretch
Locate a stable household fixture or piece of gym equipment that is about hip height. Move your feet about an arm’s length from the fixture and stand with your feet at hip width or slightly wider. Reach forward and place both hands on the fixture. Now move one foot slightly forward and to the center of your body, toes pointing forward. Lift the other leg off the ground by bending your knee and rotating your thigh outward. Place the ankle of the rotated and lifted leg just above the knee of the support leg. Move your hips back and bend the knee of the leg you’re standing on. Allow your elbows to straighten as you settle into the stretch. Repeat on other leg.
Standing Calf Stretch – targets calves Stand approximately one arm’s length from a chair, wall, or tree. Move one leg in close to the chair while extending the other leg behind you. Keep your feet about hip width apart. With the leg closest to the chair bent and your back leg straight, place your hands on the chair. Keep the back heel on the ground with the knee straight and move your hips forward. Slowly lean forward from the ankle, keeping your back straight, until you feel a stretch in the calf muscle. Repeat with other leg.
Back Arch Stretch – targets Abdominals Kneel on all fours with your hands directly below your shoulders and knees positioned below your hips. Keep your neck straight (neither lifted nor dropped). Gently pull your shoulder blades toward one another. Your lower back is neither flat nor extremely arched (neutral position). Now, tighten your lower back muscles and arch your back (push your belly button toward the floor). Hold this arched lower back position and return to your starting position.
Lateral Head Tilt – targets sides and back of neck Stand with your feet hip width apart and knees slightly bent. Let your arms hang relaxed by your sides. Slowly move your right ear toward your right shoulder. Simultaneously press your left hand toward the floor and your left shoulder away from your left ear. Do this slowly and with control, until you feel mild tension in the left side of your neck, shoulder, and upper back. Hold this position, release the arm that is pressing down, return your head to its starting position and then repeat on the other side.
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