The Best Stretches for Flexibility

The Best Stretches for Flexibility

Flexibility training is a much overlooked yet very necessary part of a fitness routine. Improved flexibility helps you move better and prevents injury. Always do a thorough cardiovascular warm-up prior to stretching so that you get your blood pumping to your muscles in order to make them pliable. Hold all stretches for 30 to 60 seconds and try to repeat each stretch you do at least twice. Never ever bounce in a stretching position.

Neck Stretch
Neck stretching will not only help improve your flexibility, it will relieve tension and stress held in the neck. This stretch is also a great way to combat a headache. In a standing position with your head facing forward, lower your right ear to your right shoulder. Dangle your left arm down along your thigh reaching for the ground. To deepen the stretch, place your right hand on the left side of your head and apply gentle pressure. Repeat on the other side.

Shoulder Stretch
Another place that you may store stress and tension is in the shoulder muscles. Use this stretch to release the tension and improve your range of motion as well. With your head back in center position, cross your right arm in front of you pointing to the left side. Grab your right forearm with your left arm and pull your right arm into your chest. Keep your palm facing backward and your shoulders relaxed. After 30 to 60 seconds, release the arm and swing both arms in front and behind you a few times prior to stretching the left shoulder.

Quadriceps Stretch
Tight quadriceps can lead to lower back and knee pain. Keep your quadriceps flexible with this standing stretch. Stand near a wall with your left hand on the wall for support. Lift your right leg off the ground bending the knee and grabbing hold of the front of your right foot with your right hand. Pull your foot in toward your buttocks. Keep your right knee pointing at the ground. Release the foot, turn around and stretch the other leg.

Hamstring Stretch
The hamstring muscles are the opposing muscle group to the quadriceps. Tightness in the hamstrings can also lead to knee and lower back pain; therefore, flexibility in this muscle group is imperative. In a standing position, extend your right leg in front of you with your heel pressing into the ground and your toe lifted. Your weight should be mostly in your left leg which should have a slightly bent knee. Place both hands on the your left thigh for support. Lean forward from the hips aiming your chest for your right knee. You should feel this stretch in the back of your thigh. Make sure to stretch the other leg as well.

Calf Stretch
Walking frequently and climbing stairs a lot can lead to tightness in the calf muscles. In fact, just being on your feet frequently can lead to tightness in these muscles. Face a wall and place both hands on it. Extend your right foot behind you with both feet pointing straight at the wall. Keep your right leg straight and your heel pressed into the ground as you lean into the wall stretching the calf muscles. After repeating this stretch on the left foot, do the same stretch with a bent back knee as well.