We all know that when it comes to exercise, you need to stretch to avoid injury. Not only do good stretches help to work your muscles out, they can also improve flexibility, reduce stress and lead to better joint mobility.
However, the usual stretches you do aren't the only ones that could offer benefits. As well as opting for simple stretches of your arms and legs, be sure to include a few different ones into your routine.
Not only will this protect you further against injury, it will also ensure that every muscle is stretched equally, giving you a more rounded workout.
Here are six stretches that you should be doing:
This stretch is similar to a side lunge but is a bit more intense, stretching out more muscles. It works by rotating the hips so you actually workout deeper muscles in your legs that often don't benefit from your stretching routine.
Start by adopting a wide stance before bending forward at the hips slowly until your hands are on the floor.
Put your weight on your right leg before lifting the heel and bending your knee to slowly lower your body to the floor. Stretch out your left leg to your side, pointing your toes toward the ceiling.
Carefully walk your hands forward to make the stretch more intense before holding the position for between six and eight breaths. You can then shift your weight to the left leg to repeat the stretch on the other side.
The puppy dog stretch is similar to other stretches but it works by extending the spine to stretch the upper chest and the middle of your back, which often don't get a workout with other back stretches.
Start the stretch on all fours, positioning your knees directly underneath your hips and your hands under your shoulders.
Slowly move your hands forward as far as you can so your chest is pulled toward the floor but your knees and hips stay in their position. Lift your tailbone toward the ceiling and place your chin on the floor.
Hold the stretch for six to eight breaths before carefully returning to your original position.
While lunges are a great stretch, you can loosen more muscles by adding a twist into the mix. This will help workout your legs, back, arms and glutes.
Lunge forward on your right leg until your thigh is parallel to the floor and your weight is balanced. Put both hands on the floor either side of your foot with your fingers facing forward.
Lift your left arm up and stretch it toward the ceiling, rotating your left shoulder back while keeping your waist in its original position.
Hold this for six to eight breaths before lowering your hand and stretching your right arm in the same way. You can then stand and lunge forward with your left leg to repeat the twists.
This version of the traditional pigeon pose in yoga will help provide a deeper stretch while also helping to strengthen the joints in your lower body. Not only will this aid in mobility, it will also result in better balance.
Start by standing straight with your legs together before putting all your weight on your right leg without moving your hips.
Slowly lift your left leg so that the foot is resting on your right thigh before raising your arms in front of your chest and bringing your palms together.
Bend your right leg carefully, sinking your weight into your heel. As you do this, let your left leg fall toward the floor to help the stretch further. Hold for a few seconds before returning to a standing position and repeating on the opposite side.
This is a great stretch for working all the small muscles in your back, which can help relieve tension and knots.
Start in the downward facing dog position - feet facing forward, bent at the hips with arms touching the floor and stretched over your head - and step forward with your left foot, but not so far that it is between your hands.
Keep your hips in place and your feet firmly on the floor as you raise your torso, stretching your arms upward for a few breaths. Then lower your hands back to the floor, move your left foot back and repeat with your right.
Another lunge stretch that will help stretch your quads and thighs is the lizard lunge. You should once again start in the downward facing dog position before stepping forward with your left leg so it is between your hands.
Lower your right leg onto the floor, keeping your toes pointed. Rest your left hand on your left knee, twisting slightly to your left, and sink your hips toward the floor.
Hold for a few breaths before returning to your downward facing dog position and repeating with your right leg.
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