You’ve just completed an amazing workout; you feel equally energized and exhausted. What now? Shower and head home feeling proud of yourself? Nope. Take some much-needed time to stretch. Not only does stretching help your muscles recover, regain flexibility and prevent soreness after a tough workout, but stretching alone relaxes muscles, increases blood flow and improves energy levels. So, whether you’ve worked out or not, these 12 stretches are worth trying right now.
1) Side Stretch
The side stretch helps to lengthen your body, stretch your obliques and elongate your spine. Start standing straight up with feet together, grab one wrist and lift your body upwards, slowly leaning towards one side. The key to this stretch is to lift up and over at the same time while breathing. Make sure to repeat on both sides for 10-15 seconds.
2) Arm Stretch
The across-the-body arm stretch is a great way to stretch your rear deltoids and triceps. It will also help to loosen up your shoulders. Without pulling or straining too hard, stretch one arm across your body. Stand straight up and work to straighten out your arm as much as possible. Repeat on both sides for 10-15 seconds.
3) Quad Stretch
One of the best quad stretches is to simply stand straight up and bring one foot to your hand. You don’t want to pull your knee back too hard and will feel the best stretch when keeping your knees together and pushing your hips forward. If done correctly, you’ll feel a light stretch between your hip flexor and knee. This exercise requires balance so you may need to hold on to something. Make sure to hold for 15-20 seconds on each side.
4) Runner’s Lunge
A runner’s lunge stretch is crucial for your hip flexors. Many endurance athletes use this stretch before and after a run. It’s usually recommended after a workout since your body is already warmed up. Start in a lunge position with one foot in front and one knee on the ground. Make sure your front knee is not in front of your front toe. Keep a 90-degree angle and slowly press your hips forward to get a deeper stretch in your hip flexor and quad. Hold for 15-20 seconds on each side.
5) Seated Hamstring Stretch
If you have tight hamstrings, try doing this stretch standing upward. If you feel like you’re able to stretch your hamstrings deeply then this stretch is perfect for you. Sit all the way back on your glutes and without forcing yourself forward, hinge at your hips while keeping your back straight and lean forward. You will feel a tremendous stretch in your hamstrings that may even escalate into your low back. Take your time here and move slowly forward to continue a deeper stretch. Hold for 15-20 seconds on each side.
6) Pigeon Stretch
The Pigeon stretch is one of the best stretches for your hips. If you’re new to this stretch, make sure to get into this movement slowly and listen to your body’s flexibility. Your goal is to get a 90-degree angle between your foot and hip. This may seem impossible to achieve, but with time you should notice more and more flexibility. Take your time to work down to your elbows. Once you feel comfortable resting your elbows on the ground, work towards bringing your head to the ground and fully surrender into this stretch. Hold for at least 20 seconds on each side slowly letting go of holding back every 5 seconds.
7) Standing Side Oblique Stretch
This stretch will help to open your airway while detoxing your whole body. Stand with your feet wider than hip distance and reach one arm up and over your body. Try to bring that arm to your ear and slowly reach up and over. Take your time during this stretch and breathe deeply as your reach further and further. Repeat 15 seconds on each side.
8) Wide Stance Forward Fold
A wide stance forward fold will completely take all stress off your back. This exercise will release any back pain and release any gravitational pull. It is important to stand with your feet as wide as possible and to fully surrender into a forward fold. If you can’t reach your feet with your hands or touch the ground, with practice you will. Stretching takes patience and time. Make sure to reach side to side and stretch both hamstrings. Stretch each side for a minimum of 20 seconds.
9) Wide Groin Stretch
After a hard leg workout or run, this stretch will ensure you lengthen your hip flexors. Begin with your feet wider than your hips and use either your hands to press on your thighs, or if flexible enough, place your elbows on your thighs. Take deep breaths and push your knees away from your body and behind you. The more flexible you are, the more depth you’ll get. Don’t force your hips lower, let gravity do the job. Hold this position for 10-20 seconds.
10) Seated Forward Fold
The seated forward fold stretch is great for your lower back and hamstrings. This stretch must be done sitting down. While keeping both legs straight, reach slowly towards your toes, stretching your hamstrings. Make sure to keep your back straight, and during each breath, release the stretch and then work to forward fold further. As your depth progresses, you can round out your back and work towards touching your toes. Release and hold for 10 seconds reaching further and further during each breath.
The bridge is an advanced stretching pose, which is great for your back and engages overall strength in your body. It will open your chest and increase blood flow. You can start lying down on your back and placing your hands near your head. Your fingers should face towards your body and while pushing up with your hands and feet, arch your back. It’s best to get a maximum arch in your back. Work your way slowly into this stretch. The more flexible you get, the larger arch you’ll have. Hold for 15-20 seconds. Repeat 3 times total.
12) Child’s Pose
Child’s pose is the perfect ending to a long workout and stretch routine. This exercise helps bring your blood flow back to the center of your body and into your heart. It helps to regulate your metabolism and calm your breathing. Not only is this a great way to end your workout but it’s also extremely beneficial at the beginning! Start with your knees further from your hips, hugging your ribcage. Drop your ribcage along the inside of your legs and surrender your arms in front of your body. Take deep breaths, inhaling though your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Repeat for 5 seconds inhaling and 5 seconds exhaling until your heart rate begins to slow.
Get your stretching started now with our super flexible yoga essentials.