You don’t have to be a yoga guru to get your stretch on. Here is a flexibility routine anyone can do after a gym class, bike ride, or strength training routine.
While the jury is still out on stretching before you work out, everyone agrees stretching for about 20 seconds per muscle group after a workout is a must to stay flexible, injury free, be less sore and knotted up, and turn your body long and lean.
Some tips for the average Joe who is not used to stretching:
Breath deeply as you stretch, filling up the lungs as much as possible with a full long exhale (think yoga breath). Dont bounce because what trainers call ballistic stretching is a one way ticket to injurytown, hold and go deeper into each move as you feel yourself loosening up. Dont strain, but aim- for eventually more flexibility.
Many people do abs at the end of a workout, so we will start the stretches from a seated position.
Seated Hamstring Stretch
Straighten legs out in front of you and fold over them from the hips. Stop when your knees start to bend and lengthen as you inhale, fold a little lower as you exhale and lengthen. Reach toward your feet, but try to to curl the back, it is not important to get your head low, but more important to elongate the hamstrings. Hold for 20-30 seconds.
Outer Thigh Seated With Twist
This will also work your glutes. Keep left leg straight and bend right knee, dropping right foot over and to the outside of your left leg. Sit up straight and hug the knee into the chest. Stay there or add a twist (good for the back and helps digestion and hangovers) by anchoring your left elbow above the bent right knee. Put right hand behind you and twist the torso. Look over your right shoulder. After 20 seconds, repeat on the other side.
Stand up. With both feet flat, begin to stand with hands on quads, and slowly round the back up, head last.
Calf Stretch With Triceps
Place left foot behind you, about 3 feet back into a lunge. Make sure the heel pushes into the floor as you lean on your bent right leg. The right knee should be directly over the right ankle. To multitask this stretch, stop leaning and move the shoulders over your hips. Extend the left arm overhead and then bend the elbow to drop the hand behind your neck, elbow to the sky. Extend right arm overhead, and place hand on left elbow. Push the elbow toward the head to increase the stretch. Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Keep the right leg back and wiggle it back even farther, about a foot, so that the heel can no longer touch the floor. Frame your left front foot with both hands on either side. Left knee is directly over the ankle. Think about making the back leg as straight as possible and dropping the hips closer to the floor. You should fee a stretch where your right pants pocket would be. Repeat on other side.
Quadriceps and Shoulder
Your left leg is behind now from the last stretch. Straighten the torso over the hips again and bring left leg in about a foot, bending the knee underneath the shoulders and hips. To multitask, extend left arm across the body at shoulder level, toward the right side of the body. Use your right hand to gently press above or below the elbow joint pushing the the left arm into the chest. Repeat on other side.
Open the legs out to the side in a plea squat, wider than shoulder width. Knees should point out to the sides and be bent close to 90 degrees, directly over the ankles. Tip at the hip and gently press hands into inner thighs, opening up the legs a little wider and increasing the stretch. Slowly roll the back up after holding for at least 20 seconds.
Interlace the fingers behind your back and try to press the heals of your hands together, closing palms into each other. Lift the straight arms up behind you toward the sky and hold.
We are basically going to reverse the last move and interlace the fingers in front of the body. Scoop the belly back, and tilt the shoulders and hips forward. Slightly bend the knees and press hands away and in front of you at shoulder level.
Side Stretch Abs
Separate feet again at least as wide as your shoulders. Support yourself on your left elbow into your left hip as you lean to the left. Extended right arm overhead and to the left. Hold the stretch and tilt your head up to the sky, looking under your arm to the ceiling. Repeat on the other side.
Take a deep breath in and remember how good you feel. Long, lean, toned, and not so average!
Check out NikkiFitness.com for a FREE stretch video. All stretches above can be found on the Nikki Fitness Military Wife Workout DVD.
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