When people consider their diet and exercise regimen and how they can improve it, they very rarely consider the benefits of simple stretching. Stretching can help you increase your balance, strength, and flexibility. Stretching for flexibility especially is beneficial in all aspects of your active life.
Why You Shouldn’t Overlook Stretching
Stretching has so many benefits. At all levels, there are stretches that can be done to help increase your flexibility and strength, and even your balance. This can help you avoid injuries, feel limber, and give you more range of motion and energy.
How Stretching and Flexibility Helps Your Workouts
Stretching your muscles is a great way to prepare them for workouts of any kind, and is also a great way to cool down from a workout. Stretching before and after workouts helps work out lactic acid, prevents injury, and helps you feel less sore. Not to mention that the added flexibility will help you get the most out of your workouts.
Great Stretches for Flexibility
- Lunge Stretches – Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your hands on your hips. Step out wide with one foot, and then bend that knee, bringing the back leg down against the ground. Get as close to the ground as you can, trying to touch your shin to the ground. Hold this pose and then repeat on the opposite leg.
- Seated Twists – Sit on the ground with your feet out in front of you and then twist your torso to one side. Then bring your arms around to help pull your torso into a good twist. Hold this pose and then repeat on the opposite side. You can also do a second variation of this stretch with your legs folded “criss-cross”.
- Folding Stretch – Stand up straight with your feet just slightly apart. Keeping your posture straight, bend at the waist and try to hug your knees. If you are not quite at that level, just try to touch your toes or use blocks or the bottom stair to stretch as far as possible.
- Butterflies – Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you. Bring your legs in and touch the bottoms of your feet together, knees bent outward. Keeping your knees as flat on the ground as possible, grab your feet and try to bring them closer to your body. Without straining yourself, bounce your knees up and down a bit.
- Yoga Poses – There are a huge amount of yoga poses that are aimed specifically at increasing your flexibility. Two of these poses are called “baby cobra” and “downward facing dog”.
- Baby Cobra – Lie face down on the ground with your arms near your head, palms on the ground. Use your hands to push the top portion of your body off the ground, curving your spine backwards and looking up to the sky.
- Downward Facing Dog – Start in push-up position, and then push your arms up, folding your body in half so your bottom is up in the air and your head and arms are down. Your heels should be flat on the ground, stretching your entire body.
- Behind the Head Elbow Stretch – In either a sitting or standing position, simply reach one arm behind your head. Using the opposite arm, grab your elbow and press to increase the stretch. Hold the stretch and repeat on the opposite side.
Stretching for flexibility will help you will all facets of your healthy lifestyle and exercise regimen. These stretches alone will be beneficial for your whole body and daily life, and when paired with your exercise routine will make a huge difference.