Improve Your Flexibility With These Stretches

Although often neglected, working on one’s flexibility is very important. Improving your flexibility can help you in your daily activities, such as tying your shoe laces, picking up the groceries or reaching to the top of the shelf. Improving your flexibility can also help you in your regular exercise routine, your posture, your dancing skills, your swimming speed, and even your strength. Not to mention, a great number of injuries are a result of muscles that are too tight. Although stretching should be added in everyone’s daily routine, it was proven not to be mandatory to succeed at any and all improvement of one’s body.

Before you overwhelm yourself with the unlimited amount of information available online, here’s the general consensus: stretching can help to heal injuries as well as avoid them by reducing the strain put on the muscle. How many times has your need to rush home after a workout resulted in pulling a muscle the next day? How frustrating is it to have to skip a workout because of that? A simple ten minute stretching session post-workout can help you more in the long run.

One muscle tissue that’s very important to stretch is the psoas. Giving it a little extra TLC saves runners, sprinters and many athletes involved in explosive or endurance-based sports. Sports medicine experts are constantly straining and testing the lengthening capacity of this muscle. Without proper stretching, there is a higher risk of back and knee injuries, as the psoas connects with many ligaments and muscles in and around the pelvis, lower back, and quadriceps.

As coaches, we recommend for you to simply listen to your body. Some people love stretching because it makes them feel good; they are relaxed, more in tune with their body. Others feel like it’s a complete waste of time. They feel distracted, impatient, and need a more intense explosive activity to feel stimulated. They would rather dedicate their time to sweating it off on the field or on the gym floor instead of stretching. Neither are good or bad. It really comes down to what makes you feel better. You don’t have to stretch every day if you don’t feel like your muscles are tight. You do have to start stretching if performing a Romanian Deadlift is near impossible due to lack of flexibility. Get what we mean?

In the spirit of finding ways to treat your body at home (other than with snacks), here are some stretches that target the most frequently injured muscle groups:

Psoas Stretch

1) Start by kneeling with both knees on the ground, then bring your right foot forward so that your right knee is 90 degrees, directly above your right ankle. 
2) Extend your left leg behind you so that your left knee is parallel to your left hip and the sole of your foot is facing the ceiling, pointing your toes behind you.
3) Rest your hands on your right thigh. You can begin the stretch with the toes of your back foot touching the ground, if you need to feel a deeper stretch, flatten the foot as explained above. 

  • INHALE AS YOU BEGIN IN THE INITIAL POSITION AND EXHALE AS YOU STRETCH ON TO THE END POSITION.
  • HOLD END POSITION FOR 30-90 SECONDS BEFORE REPEATING THE MOVEMENT ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE.


Hamstring Stretch

1) Sit with one leg extended and your back straight.
2) Bend your other leg so that the sole of your foot rests against your opposite inner thigh.
3) Reach towards your ankle by keeping your leg straight. You should feel a slight discomfort in your hamstring. Lean forward gradually and slowly.

  • INHALE AS YOU BEGIN IN THE INITIAL POSITION AND EXHALE AS YOU STRETCH ON TO THE END POSITION.
  • HOLD END POSITION FOR 30-90 SECONDS BEFORE REPEATING THE MOVEMENT ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE.

Wrist Flexors

1) Stretch arm out in front with elbow straight and palm facing away.
2) With the other hand, pull your fingers backward towards you.

  • HOLD END POSITION FOR 30-90 SECONDS BEFORE REPEATING THE MOVEMENT ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE.


Wrist Extensors

1) Stretch arm out in front with elbow straight, hand down, palm facing you.
2)
With the opposite hand, grab the back of the hand you’re stretching and pull towards you.

  • HOLD END POSITION FOR 30-90 SECONDS BEFORE REPEATING THE MOVEMENT ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE.

Lower Back Supine Stretch

1) Laying on your back, bring your arms out to your sides with the palms facing down in a T position. Bring the right leg up, by bending your knee, pulling it towards your chest until your foot is hovering above the left knee.
2) Exhale, dropping the right knee over to the left side of your body, twisting the spine and lower back. Look at your right finger tips.
3) Keep the shoulders flat on the floor and breathe, releasing control into the position. Let gravity pull the knee down. You shouldn’t force anything in this position.

  • INHALE AS YOU BEGIN IN THE INITIAL POSITION AND EXHALE AS YOU STRETCH ON TO THE END POSITION.
  • HOLD END POSITION FOR 30-90 SECONDS BEFORE REPEATING THE MOVEMENT ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE.

Cat Stretch

1) Start by taking a deep breath with your head and chest raised up and lower back arched down, forcing your glutes up by pushing your pelvic area out. Hold for 1 second.
2) Exhale – while you tuck your chin down to your chest and round your back toward the ceiling. Force your butt back in as you pull your pelvic area inwards. Alternate between holding the arched and rounded back position for 5-10 seconds.

  • INHALE AS YOU BEGIN IN THE INITIAL POSITION AND EXHALE AS YOU STRETCH ON TO THE END POSITION.
  • HOLD END POSITION FOR 30-90 SECONDS BEFORE REPEATING THE MOVEMENT ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE.

Rotator Cuff Stretch

1) Stand in a doorway or find a wall to use as leverage. Grasp the opening or wall with one hand.
2) With the opposite hand, hold the elbow along with the targeted shoulder firmly against your body.
3) Standing in the same spot, rotate your body away from the arm against the wall.

  • INHALE AS YOU BEGIN IN THE INITIAL POSITION AND EXHALE AS YOU STRETCH ON TO THE END POSITION.
  • HOLD END POSITION FOR 30-90 SECONDS BEFORE REPEATING THE MOVEMENT ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE.

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