5 stretches you should be doing every day
Want to build up your flexibility and strength? Start stretching!
Stretching is a crucial step in your everyday life and exercise routine. In fact, it ensures that your muscles stay flexible which increases your range of motion, improves your athletic performance and lessens your risk of injury.
By neglecting to stretch regularly, your muscles will shorten and tighten which will leave them weaker and unable to perform well. Ultimately, this can cause things like joint pain as well as muscle strains and damage – which we all want to avoid.
So by incorporating stretching into your exercise regime, you can keep your muscles long, lean and flexible so that they can perform at their best while you exercise and throughout the day.
With that in mind, here are 5 stretches to add to your daily routine that will target all areas of the body and leave you feeling loose and warm for your day or workout…
1. Downward dog for calf stretch
You’ve probably heard of downward dog – when it comes to your calves this one’s a goodie! This stretch opens and widens the calves as well as the hamstrings and achilles tendon.
How to do it: From four points of kneeling position (hands and knees on the floor) spread your fingers and tuck your toes while you lift the knees and drive your hips towards the ceiling. Lower your heels and keep a slight bend in the knee, keeping your hands on the mat and drawing your shoulder blades down. Keep your head between your arms and breathe deeply while you hold the stretch for up to 30 secs.
2. Glute stretch
To improve your flexibility in your glutes (and hips) it’s important to stretch out your glutes everyday as they are the largest and strongest muscles in your body – and crucial for exercise!
How to do it: Lie on your back and bend your knees. Bring your left ankle over your right thigh and lift your foot off the ground. Bring your right leg to 90 degrees and then loop your hands through your legs to draw your right leg towards your chest. Ensure your head and neck remain neutral on the floor. Hold the stretch for up to 30 secs then switch sides.
3. Spinal twist
Whether you’re seated or lying down, doing a spinal twist can do wonders for decompressing and elongating the spine – which helps with exercise and everyday functionality.
How to do it: For the seated twist in a chair or on the ground, start by twisting your upper body (head, neck and shoulders) to your right. Either hold the chair or put your right hand on the floor and rest your left hand on your knee. Keep your head and neck aligned and hold the stretch for up to 30 secs, then switch to your left side.
If you’d prefer to do this lying on the ground, start flat on your back with your arms spread horizontally and your knees lifted at a 90 degree angle. Keeping your knees at the angle gently lower your knees to your right side until they touch the ground. Hold the stretch for up to 30 secs then switch sides.
4. Triceps stretch
Triceps help the range of motion you get through your elbows and arms, so keeping these muscles flexible is crucial to your everyday wellbeing.
How to do it: Lift your right hand above your head towards the ceiling and bend your elbow behind your neck (leaving your elbow pointing towards the ceiling). With your left hand, grasp your right elbow and pull it gently towards the left. Hold the stretch for up to 30 secs then switch over to the left side.
5. Hamstring stretch
Like the triceps do for the arms, your hamstrings support the range of motion in both your knees and hips. By keeping your hamstrings flexible and strong, you not only increase your legs’ athletic performance but protect them from injury.
How to do it: Lying on your back, raise your right leg with your foot flexed parallel to the ceiling keeping a slight bend in the knee. Then, gently straighten your right leg until you can feel the stretch along the back of your thigh – hold for up to 30 secs then switch to the other leg.
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Harvard Health Publishing:
Harvard Business Review:
https://hbr.org/2015/12/6-yoga-exercises-you-wont-be-embarrassed-to-do-at-your-desk SportsMed Physical Therapy: https://spineandsportsmed.com/gluteal-strengthening/