Let’s face it – most of us don’t stretch as often as we should.
We all want to be more flexible and help our muscles after a workout, but often a lack of knowledge of what exactly to do keeps us on our toes.
Learning the best stretches to increase flexibility is the first step to a happier, healthier body. Read on to find out everything you need to know about stretching!
Why stretching is important
Regular stretching will keep your muscles flexible and strong, and this flexibility gives you full freedom of movement as you move your limbs and body. If we don’t stretch, especially after exercising, we run the risk of over-tensing our muscles. This can lead to restricted mobility, strain and poor posture.
It’s not just exercise that tones your muscles. Even if you sit at your desk all day, the muscles in your legs can contract, which can create difficulties when trying to achieve full range of motion when doing physical activity.
In short, staying limber makes any form of physical activity much easier and helps keep your body healthy and fully functional throughout your life.
Where should I start stretching?
We have over 600 muscles in the human body, and trying to stretch every one of them (although it is undoubtedly satisfying if you can!) Isn’t really possible. Fortunately, you don’t all have to stretch to be flexible and mobile.
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The most important areas are primarily leg extension: calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, and hip flexors. It is also a good idea to stretch your lower back, neck, and shoulders. Ideally, you want to do a stretching routine three to four times a week.
The best stretching routine for beginners
– – Lunge and twist
To do this classic stretch that can work wonders for back pain, start by standing upright with your feet together. Then, take a big step forward with your left foot, holding the other in place, and bend your left knee as you step so that you lunge into a lunge.
Then place your right hand next to your left foot as you twist your torso to extend your left arm toward the sky and open your entire torso. Hold this pose for a minute, then repeat on the other side.
Good for: hip flexors, back, quads
– – Standing hamstring stretch
Begin standing upright with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms by your sides. Then, as you exhale, slowly bend forward at your waist, keeping your feet planted.
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Do not put any strain on your head and shoulders, and put your arms around your legs. Hold this position for a minute, then slowly return to your starting position in the same controlled manner.
Good for: back, neck, buttocks, calves, hamstrings
– – Piriformis stretch
This stretch is great for dealing with back and hip pain. To move, first sit on the floor with your legs outstretched. Cross your right leg over your left leg, making sure that your right foot is flat on the floor.
Then place your right hand behind you about a foot from your butt and place your left elbow on the outside of your right knee. You should feel this expand on your back and hips.
Good for: glutes, back, hips
– – Triceps stretch
Start standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Extend your arms just above your head, then bend your right arm at the elbow until you touch the lower part of your neck or your upper back if you can.
Bend it with your left arm and keep your right elbow in place for the stretch. After a minute, switch arms and repeat.
Good for: shoulders, neck, triceps, back
– – Extend your knees to your chest
First, lie on your back with your legs stretched out and your arms by your sides. Then pull your left knee toward your chest, making sure that your right leg stays still and your lower back is flat on the floor.
Wrap your hands around your knee to keep it in place and hold the stretch for a minute. Then repeat with your right leg.
Good for: hips, hamstrings, lower back
– – Standing quad track
This is a nice simple one. Stand with your feet together, just bend your right leg and lift your heel up to your butt. Hold it there with your right hand and use your left hand for balance if you have to.
Hold this position for a minute, then repeat on the other leg.
Good for: quads
– – Sphinx pose
Lie flat on your stomach and stretch your legs out behind you. Then, lift your torso by placing your elbows under your shoulders so your chest is off the floor. Place your palms flat on the floor and straighten your forearms in front of you.
Make sure you are pushing your lower body towards the floor as you do this and stop if you experience lower back pain. All you want is a satisfying route!
Good for: chest, shoulders, lower back
Once you start doing flexibility exercises, it will take your body a while to get used to the change. You won’t necessarily be amazingly pliable after a session or two. However, if you do stick to it, you will notice big changes in the way your body feels and functions in daily life in the coming weeks and months.
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When you start doing the above stretches, you will hit all of your major muscle groups and before you know it you will feel more limber and livelier than ever.
Ready to achieve your goals?
Excited to achieve your goals? Why not try pairing your new stretching regimen with Zotrim? As a clinically proven appetite suppressant, Zotrim will keep your diet smooth and easy, and will help you fight the hunger pangs that can interfere with a diet and healthy lifestyle.
Looking and feeling good has never been easier!