If you want to stay injury-free, the best remedy is simple: stretch. But common excuses like, "I don't have time to stretch" or "I'll stretch later" prevent many from partaking in a proper cool down. In reality, you only need 5 to 10 minutes to give your muscles the love they need.
Regular stretching helps improve flexibility, increases range of motion, and reduces the risk of injury caused by lesions of the connective tissue. Plus, stretching is great for stress relief. So after your workout, take a few minutes to rid the lactic acid and stretch. Try these 12 static stretches that will keep your body healthy and performing strong.
Stretching Basics1 of 13
Frequency: Stretch daily. Length: Hold each stretch for a minimum of 15 to 20 seconds for 1 to 2 rounds. As you gain flexibility you can hold each stretch longer for a deeper stretch. And remember to stretch both sides equally. Should You Feel Pain? No, it should not be painful. If the stretch hurts then you have gone too far. Reduce the range and build up slowly. Ideally, stretch to the point where you can feel a light stretch that you can hold on for 15 to 20 seconds without extreme pain. Remember to Breathe NEVER hold your breath. Breathing will help you relax and deepen the stretch.
Hamstring Stretch2 of 13
Sit on the ground and extend right leg straight in front of you. Touch the heel of the left leg to your right knee. Bend forward and hold your toes/foot with both hands to stretch your hamstrings. If you can't touch your toes/foot, then hold your shin. Each time you do this stretch try to reach a little further. Eventually you will be able to reach your foot. Repeat on the other side.
Glutes and IT-Band Stretch3 of 13
Lie on the floor or a mat. Bend the right leg and keep the right foot flat on the floor. Cross your left leg over the right thigh. Hold onto the back of the right thigh with both hands. Pull both legs toward your torso. Repeat on the opposite side.
Quadriceps Stretch4 of 13
Hold onto a pole, door, wall or chair for balance. Using your right hand, grab your right foot and pull your heel in toward your buttocks. Keep your knees close together during this stretch. Repeat on the other side.
Groin Stretch5 of 13
Sit on the floor with the soles of your feet touching. While holding your toes, lean your upper body forward, bending from the hips.
Low-Back Stretch6 of 13
Lie on your back with your knees bent. Hug your shins and slowly pull your knees up to the chest until you feel a gentle stretch in your lower back.
Abdominal Stretch7 of 13
Lie on your stomach with hands underneath the shoulders. Gently push your upper body off the ground while keeping the pelvis on the ground. You should feel slight stretching in the front of the stomach.
Posterior Shoulder Stretch8 of 13
Pretend you have an itch between your shoulder blades. Hold your right arm across your body and grab the back of your right elbow with your left hand. Pull the left elbow in as far as you can so that your right fingertips can reach your upper back. Repeat on the other side.
Chest and Front Shoulder Stretch9 of 13
Hang onto a pole or a door at shoulder height with the left arm straight. Turn to your right to feel the stretch. Repeat on the other side.
Triceps Stretch10 of 13
With your arms overhead, use your left hand to pull the right elbow behind your head. You should feel the stretch in your right triceps. Repeat on the other side.
Wrist Stretch11 of 13
Extend both arms straightforward and on top of each other. Take your right hand to bend your left wrist backwards as far as you can until you feel a stretch in your wrist/forearm. Repeat with the other hand. Then bend your wrist in the opposite direction until you feel a stretch. Repeat with the other wrist.
Calf Stretch12 of 13
Put one foot out straight. Slowly pull the toes backward till you feel a stretch in the calf muscles. If you cannot reach your toes, then use a towel to pull your foot back.