Let’s be real here ladies—we don’t stretch as much as we probably should do. Sure, we talk about how we’d love to be limber and flexible, but when push comes to shove, we just never seem to find the time.
And when we do find the time, it takes forever to look up a great stretching routine on the internet, and of course you can never be sure that you’re targeting all the right muscles.
Well, today’s the day we change that and get stretching!
Why stretching is so important
The act of stretching your muscles keeps them strong and flexible, and helps to ensure you have a full range of motion when moving.
If you neglect stretching, especially after exercising, you run the risk of your muscles growing tight, which can restrict your range of motion and lead to muscle strains and bad posture.
Even if you’re not the type to exercise regularly, you still run the risk of having your muscles tighten. Sitting in a chair for long hours, for example, can tighten your hamstrings, leading to troubles in your range of motion and creating the potential for sprains when you exercise.
Who’d have thought sitting down all day could lead to injury?! Simply put, to stay limber, flexible and healthy, you need to stretch regularly.
Where to begin
We have around 600 muscles in our bodies, but relax—we don’t need to stretch every last one of them. To maintain a healthy body and avoid injuries, it’s enough to focus on certain key areas.
These are largely leg stretches (calves, hamstrings, quads and hip flexors) and stretches for your lower back, neck and shoulders. You should aim to do a stretching routine somewhere between three and five times a week.
The best stretches to increase flexibility
– Lunge with twist
To begin this well-known stretch, start by standing upright, feet side by side. Then take one large step forward with your right foot, bending your right knee so you go into the lunge position. From here, place your left hand on the ground beside your right foot, while turning your body and extending your right hand up towards the sky.
Try to keep a straight line between both your hands while you hold this position for one minute. Then repeat on the opposite side!
Great for your back, quads and hip flexors.
– Standing hamstring stretch
Start off standing straight, with your feet hip-width apart. Next, breathe out slowly, and while doing so fold forward at the waist, making sure your feet stay firmly planted. Avoid straining your neck and shoulder muscles, instead keeping them relaxed as you fold your arms around your legs.
Hold yourself here for one minute, then return back to start slowly.
Great for your neck, back, calves, glutes and
– Triceps stretch
After initially standing with your feet shoulder width apart, hold your arms straight above your head. Bend your left arm at the elbow, bringing your fingers down to the back of your neck, and stretch down to touch your upper back.
Fold your right arm over to hold your left elbow while maintaining the stretch, and switch arms after a minute.
Great for your triceps, shoulders, neck and back.
– Piriformis stretch
This movement is excellent at helping you stave off hip problems and back pain. To do it, start out sitting on the floor with your legs stretched out in front. Then, cross your right leg over your left, and place your right foot flat on the floor.
Once you’ve done this, place your right hand around a foot away behind you. Then press your left elbow against the outside of your right knee, and put a little pressure on it for more of a stretch.
Great for your glutes, back and hip flexors.
– Standing quad stretch
You’ve probably done this one before! Standing with your feet together, all you need to do is lift up one leg (using your opposite arm to balance if you need it) and bring your heel in to your butt.
Hold it there with the arm you’re not using for balance, and you should feel the stretch all the way down your thigh.
Great for your hips, lower back and hamstrings.
– Knee to chest stretch
For this one begin on your back with your legs stretched out. Slowly, lift up one leg while keeping the other flat to the floor, and bring your knee into your chest, clasping it with your hands to keep it there and deepen the stretch. Hold it for a minute, then repeat with the opposite leg.
You can perform this move with both knees at the same time, or do one at a time.
Great for your hamstrings, hips and lower back.
– Sphinx pose
Start off on your stomach, lying flat, with your legs extended behind you. Then prop yourself up on your elbows so your torso is lifted up off the floor. Point your forearms forward and keep your head up, like a sphinx. You should be sure to press your hips down into the floor as you do this to deepen the stretch.
Great for your chest, shoulders and lower back.
When you first attempt the above flexibility exercises, it’s important to keep your expectations realistic—it will be more than just a couple of stretching routines until you’re all bendy and limber. If you keep practising and doing the best stretches possible, however, you’ll soon find yourself improving and feeling better than ever.
Also Read: 15 Day Diet Plan
The above stretching exercises will target your most important muscle groups, and if you perform the moves as described above, you’ll be feeling on top of the world in no time, ladies!
Ready to reach your goals?
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