28 November 2019

Stretches for Flexibility: Facts and Exercises

Most of us already know about the importance of stretching after a workout. We don’t know about you, but we have learned that lesson the hard way!

Stretching your muscles shouldn’t only be reserved for after your workout, though. Implementing a daily stretching routine will help to increase your flexibility, which in turn provides you with numerous benefits.

Top Three Benefits of a Daily Stretching Routine

  1. Increase results of strength training

Stretching lengthens your muscle fibers. When your muscle fibers are longer, your muscles can get bigger and, therefore, stronger when you do your resistance training.

  1. Decrease the risk of injury

When you have a good range of motion and your muscle fibers are flexible, you drastically reduce your risk of injury. This applies to injury from exercise, and also from everyday activities.

  1. Improve posture

It is a fact that our posture is worse than it has ever been. This is mainly due to our sedentary lifestyles. Many of us also spend a lot of our day hunched over a computer or smartphone. A daily stretching routine that includes chest and upper back stretches will help to improve posture and decrease the risk of back pain. Hamstring and lower back stretches will also help improve posture.

A Simple Daily Stretching Routine

Here are some simple stretches for flexibility. Try to hold each one for 30 seconds and perform 1-2 times a day if you can. You will soon start to feel the benefits.

Lower back stretches

  1. Child’s pose

This yoga posture is excellent for stretching out the lower back. Begin on your hands and knees. Bring your toes together and take your knees wide. Bring your sitting bones down towards your heels and walk your hands forward. This action will bring your chest and forehead down towards the floor. If you cannot rest your head on the floor, place a yoga block or folded blanket underneath for extra support.

  1. Cat-Cow stretches

Another yoga pose, this one is great for keeping your spine supple and reducing back pain. Start on your hands and knees. Inhale, drop the ribs down towards the floor while raising your tailbone towards the ceiling. Slide your shoulders down away from your ears and look up. Exhale, tuck the tailbone and the chin, round the spine upwards, and take your navel back toward your spine. Repeat for ten breaths.

Upper back stretches

  1. Tadpole

This pose stretches the upper back and shoulder blades. Start from child’s pose. Inhale and lift your head off the floor. Release your right arm and extend it out to the right. Exhale and slide it underneath your chest, through the gap between your left arm and knee. Rest the right side of your face on the mat. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the left side.

  1. Shoulder Stretch

Sit or stand and interlace your fingers in front of your chest. As you exhale, turn your hands the opposite way and push them away from your chest, at the same time as rounding your spine out behind you and tucking your chin into your chest. You will feel your upper back stretch and your shoulder blades separate.

Chest Stretches

  1. Pectoral stretch A

Sit or stand and interlace your fingers behind you. As you exhale, raise your hands toward the ceiling. You will feel your shoulder blades come together, and your pectoral muscles stretch.

  1. Pectoral stretch B

Stand in a doorway. Place your forearms and palms on either side of the doorframe. As you exhale, gently lean your weight through the door. You will feel the chest and pecs opening and lengthening.

Hamstring Stretches

  1. Forward fold

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. As you exhale, gently fold your upper body down towards the floor. Allow your arms to dangle or clasp your elbows in ragdoll posture. You will feel the entire back of your body stretching and lengthening.

  1. Runners hamstring stretch

Stand about a foot away from a wall. Place your hands on the wall at shoulder height. Step one leg back, keeping it straight and the foot flat on the floor. Bend the front knee and lean into the wall. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

There you have it. A simple daily stretching routine that needs no equipment and that you can start implementing today.

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