We’ve been talking a lot about stretching exercises because they are amazing and so good for your body. If you didn’t see my previous post about stretching, definitely check it out here!
Benefits of Stretching Exercises
Stretching exercises are so important for all of us (check out this article here) and the benefits can be tremendous. Don’t worry, you don’t have to stretch every muscle, but you should focus on areas such as your hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, lower back, shoulders, neck, and back. These are areas where many of us carry a lot of tension and stress.
And here are two other benefits of stretching exercises: they can be done almost anywhere AND they don’t require special equipment! You can do them at home, while traveling, or even in your office. All you need is a little time and a little space.
In today’s post, I’m gonna tell you about my 5 favorite stretching exercises and why you need to do them today. Let’s get started!
- Benefits: hip opener, lengthens glute muscles
- How to do it: Come into the stretch by way of a straight arm plank, or
downward facing dog. Lift one leg, then bring the foot towards your hands. Bend the knee of that leg and lower the leg onto the mat so that your shin is parallel to the top of the mat. The back leg should be long and the top of your foot should be pressed against the mat. Square hips and shoulders as you hold the upper body upright, or hinge forward at the hip keeping your spine long. You can bend your elbows and rest your head on your forearms, or lengthen both arms and rest your head on or close to the mat.
Figure Four Stretch
- Benefits: hip opener, lengthens glute muscles
- How to do it: This stretch can be done standing, seated upright, or lying on the floor.
- If standing, hold onto something sturdy for support. Place right ankle on top of the left knee. Bend through the left knee and come into a one-legged chair position so that the left quadricep is parallel to the floor but keep the left knee over the left ankle. Repeat on the other side.
- If seated upright, bend left knee with left foot planted on the floor. Place right ankle on top of bent left knee. Bring left knee close to torso while keeping your spine long. While holding onto the back of left thigh, use right elbow to gently press right knee away from torso. Repeat on the other side.
- If lying on
floor, bend leftknee and raise leftfoot off the floor so the leg is in a tabletop position. Place rightankle on top of bentleft knee. Bring left knee close to torsowhile keeping head, neck, and shoulders either on the mator you can raise them off of the mat. While holding onto the back of leftthigh, use rightelbow to gently press rightknee away from torso. Repeat on the other side.
- Benefits: lengthens the neck and upper back muscles
- How to do it: While standing or seated, wrap right forearm over the left forearm, bringing the palms together if possible. Relax through the shoulders and press the shoulder blades down. Slowly hinge forward as you press your elbows away from the torso. Come back to the starting position and switch sides.
Single Leg Stretch
- Benefits: Lengthens hamstring muscles and strengthens core muscles
- How to do it: This exercise can be done as part of a core workout, or as a simple stretch.
- For a core workout, lie on your back and raise the
rightleg off the mat. Keep both legs long and toes pointed. Curl head neck and shoulders off the mat and hold onto the back of the right thigh or calf while bringing the leg closer to your torso, then switch legs. Continue to switch legs keeping the tempo slow or moderate (as long as you maintain proper form).
- As a simple stretch, lie on your back and raise right leg off the mat. Keep both legs long and toes pointed. Lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the floor, or keep them on the floor. Hold onto the back of the right thigh or calf and hold the stretch for a couple of seconds while breathing to sink deeper into the stretch. Switch legs.
- Benefits: lengthens shoulder muscles, back muscles, muscles throughout the back of legs, and variations can lengthen quads.
- How to do it: From straight arm plank, push hips towards the sky, keeping arms and legs long and forming an upside-down “V” with your body. Press heels towards the floor and evenly distribute your body weight between your hands and feet. Stay here a couple of breaths.
- Additional options: lift one leg to the sky. Stay here or bend through the knee as you open up through the hips and stretch the quadricep of the bent leg. Square off hips, lower foot to the floor and repeat on the other side.
I hope you can see why I love these 5 stretches so much…they are definitely my go-to stretches whenever my muscles feel tight or achy. But there are so many other stretches available, and I encourage you to explore others if these don’t work for you. Do you need ideas? Feel free to reach out, and I can help you find stretches that can work for you.
Hope you have a good one!
Mrs. Traylor is a Fitness Instructor, NASM Certified Personal Trainer & Nutrition Coach, AFPA Certified Prenatal and Postnatal Fitness Specialist, wife, and momma who provides actionable advice for positive lifestyle changes with fitness, nutrition, and wellness. Read about Wendy’s inspiring entrepreneurial journey, and subscribe to Wendy’s newsletter here!