Let's face it, a workout wouldn't be complete without proper stretching exercises. We all need a certain amount of flexibility to accomplish our daily activities and duties. But by going beyond that and working at increasing your range of motion through special techniques can bring great benefits.
I always warm up by doing 5+ minutes on the bike then move on to some light stretching movements of the muscles I will be training that day. Doing this prepares me mentally as well as physically to best perform my workout. By adopting a similar routine, you can greatly reduce/minimize your risk of injury.
Common Stretches For Each Bodypart
Many peoples with back problems could easily and efficiently tame their pain if they would include (among other therapies and techniques) simple stretch moves in their daily schedule. Muscles of the lower back can become very stiff after sitting all day at the office or after an intense leg/back workout!
Performing stretching exercises after your workout is the best time because your muscles are still warm and more flexible. Alternatively, you could stretch after a hot bath or shower if it is more suitable for you.
Lower Back Stretch::
Lay down on your back. Bend one knee at 90-degree angle and let it fall over your opposite leg. Always keep shoulders/upper back flat on the floor. Relax in the stretch position.
Sit on the floor and bring your chest close to your knees by holding them with your hands. Roll back gently on your back while remaining in that position. Be sure to use a floor mat to ease this move.
Squat down (like if you were going to sit on the ground) with your feet shoulder width apart and your feet slightly pointed outward. If you have poor balance, hold onto something.
Lay down on your back with your feet flat on the floor & both hands joined together behind your head. Gently bring your chin closer to your sternum. Don't over pull on your head when doing this move. Relax in the position.
Whether your work requires you to stand or sit most of the day, you will benefit from good leg stretching moves. These exercises also come as a complement to your back strength and flexibility: i.e. Thigh hamstringstring muscles will definitively leave your lower back feeling stiff and uncooperative.
Stand up, bend one knee and hold the top of your foot with the opposite hand. Pull your foot gently closer to your butt just so you can feel the stretch in your thigh (quads). Holding onto something (with your free hand) for balance is a good idea for this move. Proceed the same way for the other leg.
Sit down and spread your legs apart. Gently try to put your chest as close to the ground as you can while avoiding any bouncing moves. If you are just beginning and are very stiff, bend your knees a bit to ease this stretch.
While holding yourself with your hands against the wall, move one leg a little way from the wall while keeping your foot flat on the floor. You will feel this stretch very good when in the right position.
Sit on the floor and bring your feet together (one against another). Slowly press your knees towards the floor while keeping your back up and straight. Leaning forwards a bit will increase this stretch and you should feel it in your hamstrings/low back and butt.
The chest and arms make up the mass of your overall physique and benefit well from stretching exercises. This will improve your overall posture and correct any tightness you may have from every day tress.
Straighten your arms and clasp your hands together behind your back. Slowly raise your arms until you feel a good stretch in the chest area.
You can do this exercise while standing or sitting. Clasp your hands together and raise your arms above your head with your palms facing up. Push your arms upward while leaning a bit towards the back. Breathe slowly and deeply.
Straighten both of your arms and press your hands against the wall with palms facing up. You will need to move your feet towards the back in order to get the most of this stretch. Hold the position for 30 sec.
Raise your left arm straight up above your head and bend it at the elbow bringing your left hand behind your neck. With your right hand, press downward against your elbow until you feel a light pulling stretch in the triceps.
Start this exercise positioned on your hands and knees. Turn your wrist so that your thumbs pointed to the outside with your fingers pointed to your knees. While keeping your palms flat on the floor, lean backward to feel the stretch in your forearms and wrists.
Sit on a chair/bench. Lean your head to the left side while holding the edge of the chair (on the right side) with your right hand. This is a really good exercise to help in relaxing the traps/ neck/shoulder ridge after a stress full day at work or an intense workout.
It is important that you always warm up before you do any stretching exercises. You see the temperature of your body as to be taken in consideration when working for increasing your flexibility. Cold muscles will not cooperate well as if they were previously warmed up! Increased Chance of injury (strains/sprains) is another reason why you should warm up.
If you want to stretch in the morning without exercising, you can take a hot bath or shower as a passive way to raise your core temperature. It is not as efficient as doing 5+ min of light cardiovascular moves but at least it will elevate the muscle's temperature at the surface level so to speak.
I am thinking about joining my friend in her Yoga classes. I heard it is very relaxing and it would surely help releasing fascial restrictions (the fascia is the membrane that encase the muscles).