Table of Contents
- Top Stretching Exercises
- Standing Hamstring Stretch
- World’s Greatest Stretch
- Chest & Shoulders Stretch
- Piriformis Stretch
- Cat-Cow Stretch
You may not feel excited while stretching. Or do you? If you do, it’s a blessing because a flexible body, a result of stretching, will allow you to stick to a workout routine that helps you reach your fitness goals. Stretching exercises improve flexibility and reduce tightness in your body parts, which translates into safer and more effective fitness sessions. It improves blood circulation and can prevent serious illnesses like arthritis, diabetes, and kidney problems.
Tight muscles strain the joints when you perform exercises or even daily movements. Prolonged strain can cause serious injuries. Stretching exercises for flexibility are essential to improve the length of the muscles to get the best of our workouts and avoid any pain. You should work out at least 3-4 every week to stay active. Work out at home with FITCOACH – AI-based fitness coach that offers workout recommendations based on your needs and preferences – to stay fit and healthy during the lockdown.
Top Stretching Exercises
Tight hamstrings put pressure on your lower back in addition to reduced pelvic mobility. Hamstring stretches prevent tightness and improve support to the back and pelvis. Hamstring stretches are good to relieve lower back pain, which also emanates from sitting all day.
How to do the Standing Hamstring Stretch
- Stand straight with your feet placed at hip-width and arms at your sides. Keep your knees soft
- Exhale and bend forward by lowering your head toward the floor hinging at the hips. Keep your back straight and head, neck, and shoulders relaxed
- Place your hands behind your legs and hold for 1-2 minutes, applying pressure gently. Do not push yourself too much
- Roll-up by bending your knees when done
You can do a standing hamstring stretch variation for a more focused stretch and less pressure on your back. It involves stretching a single leg instead of both. Take your left or right foot forward keeping the knee straight while the other knee is bent. Lower down with your hips, and hold for up to 30 seconds. Repeat on the other leg.
The Lunge with Spinal Twist is commonly known as the World’s Greatest Stretch (WGS) in the fitness world. It stretches the hip flexors, quads, and back, which helps with pain due to improper posture. It is a great stretching exercise for beginners who sit and work for long periods at a stretch. It opens up the hips and the mid-back.
How to do the World’s Greatest Stretch
- Stand straight with your feet together
- Take a step forward with your left foot to reach a staggered stance
- Go into a lunge position by bending your left leg. Keep your left leg straight with toes on the ground. You should feel a stretch in your right thigh
- Place your right hand (palm down) next to your left leg on the floor
- Now, twist your torso to the left and extend your left arm toward the ceiling
- Hold for at least 30 seconds
To improve on the world’s greatest stretch benefits, take your right elbow and touch it on the ground next to your left foot before raising your right arm over your body.
It is very important to stretch your chest and shoulders, especially before or after doing push-ups or other chest and triceps exercises.
How to do the Chest & Shoulders Stretch
- Stand straight and clasp your hands behind your back. Make sure your arms are straight
- Slowly, lift your hands upward. Don’t push them too hard – only as much as it stretches your shoulders and chest
- Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 2 times.
If you are unable to clasp your hands together, bring them as close as possible and stretch upward.
The internal hip rotator, located on the outside of the butt, is known as the Piriformis muscle. It allows external rotation and happens to be one of the most neglected muscles. A tight piriformis muscle, since it crosses over the sciatic nerve, can cause pain in the region. This stretching exercise prevents sciatica problems and helps treat it as well.
How to do the Piriformis Stretch
- Sit on a yoga mat with your legs stretched in front
- Bend your right knee and cross your right leg over the left leg. Make sure your right foot is flat on the floor
- Place your right hand on the floor behind your body
- Keeping your back straight, place your left elbow across your right knee
- Press your leg with the elbow to twist your torso. Do not put extra pressure
In case your back hurts, simply use your left hand to pull your right leg. Hold for at least 15 seconds and then repeat on the other side
The Cat-Cow Stretch or Pose flexes and extends the spine, which improves blood circulation in the discs. It eases pain and helps maintain a healthy spine. This is another great exercise if you sit for prolonged periods. The cat-cow stretch relieves stress and anxiety in addition to improving posture and balance.
How to do the Cat-Cow Pose
- Get on all fours with your palms directly under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips
- Cow Pose - Inhale and slowly arch your back, dropping your stomach to the floor, and raise your head toward the ceiling. Hold for 3-5 seconds
- Cat Pose - Exhale and draw your belly into the spine, rounding your back toward the ceiling. Let your head drop in toward your body but don’t put pressure on it. Hold for 3-5 seconds
- Inhale and go back into the cow pose
Repeat at least 10 times very slowly.