Stretching is definitely not the most exciting part of working out but if you want to improve your flexibility and at the same time have a well-rounded fitness routine full of strength and cardio work, you should definitely not skip stretching.
It helps by improving your flexibility, reducing your tightness, and preventing future workout-related injuries as tight muscles cause a huge amount of stress on the joints during daily functions or sometimes they themselves get injured.
This happens because as we grow older, our muscles tend to get shorter and less elastic. Stretching should be crucial in your workout routine if you are looking for improving the strength of your muscles, just so can enjoy moving around without any pain.
Stretching won’t give you the rush like other exercises so most people don’t find it fun to do. It is uncomfortable and your body will need a lot of time to get used to a stretching routine.
But you are contracting your muscles by doing workouts like lifting, without stretching, you’ll end up causing an imbalance in your muscles which will make the fit ones compensate for the injured ones and will further increase your risk of getting an injury.
This will also give rise to discomfort. If you stretch, you’ll have a wider full range of motion (ROM). having a greater range of motion will allow you to sink deeper into a squat and you’ll be able to do more exercises, all of them properly. However, adding stretching to your daily routine to increase your mobility is not hard.
So, here is a list of stretches that you should preferably do before your workout in order to induce more flexibility and moveability:
1. Standing Hamstring Stretch
First, Stand tall, feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, and arms by your sides. Then, exhale as you bend forward at the hips, lowering your head toward the floor while maintaining a relaxed head, neck, and shoulders. Follow it up by wrapping your arms over the backs of your legs and holding for 45 to two minutes. When you’re finished, bend your knees and do a roll-up. At the end of this, your neck, back, glutes, hamstrings, and calves are all stretched.
2. Piriformis Stretch
This stretch targets the piriformis muscle which is an internal deep hip rotator. It aids in external rotation. As it lays over the sciatic nerve, its tightness can result in an irritation of the nerve. Stretching this muscle will help you to totally avoid or prevent potential future sciatica.
Sit on the floor and don’t forget to keep your legs outstretched in front of you. Place your right foot firmly on the floor and follow it up by crossing your right leg over your left. Then, take your right hand and place it in such a way that it is behind your back and is on the floor. Place your left hand on your right quad or your left elbow on your right knee and twist your body to the right while pressing your right leg to the left.
If the spinal rotation irritates your back, remove it and just pull your right quad in and to the left with your left hand. This stretches the hips, back, and glutes.
3. Lunge With Spinal Twist
Begin by putting your feet together. Take a large step forward with your left foot, creating a staggered posture. Bend your left knee and descend into a lunge, keeping your right leg straight behind you and your toes on the ground, until you feel a stretch at the front of your right thigh.
Place your right hand on the floor and rotate your upper body to the left while raising your left arm to the ceiling. Hold the position for some time preferably within 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Rep on the other side. It stretches the hip flexors, quadriceps, and back.
4. Triceps Stretch
Bow down, sit, or stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and your arms aloft. Bend your right elbow and reach for the top center of your back with your right hand. Grip directly behind your right elbow with your left hand above.
Pull your right elbow down and toward your head gently. Repeat with the other arm. Neck, shoulders, back, and triceps are all stretched at the end of this.
5. Figure Four Stretch
This stretch primarily targets the piriformis and iliopsoas muscles (your hip rotator and flexor muscles) as well as the IT band. Because of this, as well as the pose’s passive character, it is a great and mild method to relieve problems related to sciatica and knee discomfort.
Lie down on your back and with your feet flat on the floor. Follow it up by crossing your left leg over your right quadriceps. Raise your right leg off the ground. Then, take a hold of the back of your right leg and draw it toward your chest. Hold a comfortable stretch for a few seconds. Hold the position for some time, maybe between 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Repeat on the other side. Hips, glutes, lower back, and hamstrings are stretched at the end of this.
6. 90/90 Stretch
This pigeon position variation aids with the internal rotation of one leg and the external rotation of the other, allowing you to target both hip motions at the same time.
Sit with your right knee bent at 90 degrees in front of you, your calf perpendicular to your torso, and your left foot’s sole facing you. Maintain a flexed right foot. Place your leg flat on the floor. Place your left knee to the left of your torso and bend it such that your foot is facing backward.
Maintain a flexed left foot. Maintain your right buttocks on the floor. Make an effort to get the left cheek as near to the floor as possible. If you’re on a limited budget, it might not be achievable. Hold the position for somewhere between 30 seconds and 2 minutes.
7. Frog Stretch
This stretch targets tight regions in the hips directly and is very beneficial for runners.
Begin on all fours. Adjust your knees to be broader than shoulder-width apart. Extend your toes and place the inside borders of your feet flat on the floor. Position your hips in such a way that they are closer to your heels.
8. Butterfly Stretch
Sit tall on the floor with your feet together and your knees bent out to the sides. Hold on to your ankles or feet, engage your abs, and gently drop your body as far as you can toward your feet while pressing your knees into the floor.
If you can’t bend over, simply press your knees down. This stretch should be held for 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Hips, glutes, back, and thighs are stretched because of this.
9. Seated Shoulder Squeeze
Sit on the floor, knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Make a fist behind your lower back. Straighten your arms, stretch them, and press your shoulder blades together. Do this for 3 seconds, then let go. Repeat 5–10 times.
10. Side Bend Stretch
Kneel on the floor, keeping your legs together, your back straight, and your core firm. Stretch out your left leg to the side. Maintain it perpendicular to your body (not in front or behind you). Extend your right arm overhead, place your left arm on your left thigh, and bend your body and right arm to the left side gently.
Maintain a forward-facing posture with your hips. This stretch should be held for 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Repeat on the other side.
11. Lunging Hip Flexor Stretch
Kneel on your left knee for a lunging hip flexor stretch. Place your right foot on the floor in front of you, flat on the floor, knee bent. Then, move by stretching your left hip toward the floor as you lean forward. To stretch your hip flexors even further, squeeze your buttocks.
Repeat on the other side. Hips, quadriceps, and glutes are stretched.
12. Lying Pectoral Stretch
Lie on your stomach with your arms outstretched to the sides, forming a T shape with your body. As you begin to roll to your right side, push off the ground with your left hand and bend your left knee for balance. This should be felt in your pectoral muscles on the right side.
You’ll be able to extend and move your body further as your mobility improves. Rep on the other side. Stretches the chest and shoulders.
13. Knee to Chest Stretch
Lie on your back with both legs stretched out. Pull your right knee into your chest, keeping your left leg straight and your lower back flat on the floor. Rep with the other leg. Lower back, hips, and hamstrings are all stretched.
14. Seated Neck Release
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, or sit with your back straight and your chest elevated. Then, try placing your left ear over your left shoulder. To deepen the stretch, use your left hand to gently push down on your head. Neck stretches Stretching Quads While Lying Down Lie down on one side.
Maintain a straight bottom leg and bend your top knee so your foot is near your buttocks. Pull your upper foot toward your buttocks with your hand. Keep your hips steady as you pull so you don’t rock back. Repeat on the other side.