This story was Updated in February 2019.
Stretching is the appetiser to your workout routine. To make your body ready for the exercise and to avoid injuries, you need to take 10-15 minutes out before and after each session. We get that it may no22t be as exciting as a kickboxing class, but you need to devote this time to loosen up your muscles. If you have just started a new fitness routine and are wondering why those muscles feel so tight, then you need to read this article and know more about stretching exercises for beginners.
Let’s begin with understanding why to we need to be fit and flexible? Consider your body to be a rubber band. It must be stretchable in order to be of full use. Stretching doesn’t burn too many calories, so we often ignore it and do the regular workouts that we feel show faster and more visible results. But flexibility is extremely important because flexible muscles allow your joints to move through a full range of motion. Incorporating stretching exercises into your workout schedule will help you improve flexibility, reduce tightness, and ultimately, make your workouts more efficient and safer.
Stretching helps your body become more flexible. It doesn’t need you to buy heavy equipment. You can start off at home in your sweatpants. In case you’re still not convinced, read on to find out the real benefits of stretching.
1. It helps you get the most out of your workouts.
2. It helps in a pain-free workout session.
3. It strengthens the muscles.
4. It reduces the risk of injuries.
5. It helps to reduce muscle soreness.
6. It helps cure lower back pain.
7. It helps in the circulation of blood and nutrients to the tissues in your body.
8. It helps improve muscle coordination.
9. It improves your body posture.
10. It releases muscle tension.
11. It promotes muscle repair and decreases stress.
12. It helps improve efficiency in completing everyday activities such as bending, reaching, squatting and stepping over things.
13. It helps improve mood by releasing muscle tension and facilitating relaxation.
Stretching the wrong way can end up you being in pain or even give you a muscle pull. It is important to keep certain things in mind before you start stretching. Read on about these strecthing tips and make notes.
1. Ensure your body is warm: Stretching cold muscles can lead to an injury. It is always suggested to engage in an aerobic activity such as walking, jogging running or swimming. These activities make the body warm and pliable. Warm muscles have increased flexibility and are more comfortable to stretch.
2. Stretch immediately after the aerobic activity: For best results, you must stretch right after you have come from a run or jog because stretching immediately afterwards lengthens the muscles and improves overall flexibility.
3. Breathe: You mustn’t hold your breath while you stretch. Ensure a steady breathing pattern while you’re stretching for your body to have an adequate supply of oxygen throughout.
4. Hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds: In order to attain a flexible body, you must hold the stretching position for at least 30 seconds to let the muscles contract and expand. Benefits increase as the length of stretch increases.
5. Don’t bounce or jerk: You should try and avoid bouncing or any kind of jerk while stretching else you might get a muscle pull. Static stretching is an effective means for improving flexibility.
6. Make it a routine: Make sure to stretch for at least 10 minutes every day. Make it a habit for your body to not feel a stretch pain due to irregular exercising.
Get your yoga mat ready and wear comfortable but fit clothing. Make sure to wear sports shoes and tie up your hair. Now you’re all set to stretch.
Stand tall, keeping your feet 12 inches apart. Bend your knees slightly. Bend forward while lowering your head closer to the floor. Make sure to exhale and keep your head, neck and shoulders relaxed. Place your arms around the back of your calves and keep the posture for about 2-3 minutes.
Most effective for: Neck, back, glutes, hamstrings and calves
Start with keeping your feet together. Take a big step forward with your left foot. Then bend your left knee and drop into a luge. Keep your right leg straight and your toes on the ground. Place your right hand on the floor and twist the upper body to the left. Extend the left arm towards the ceiling. Hold the position for about two minutes. Repeat this with the right leg.
Most effective for: Hip flexors, quads and back
Kneel down with your feet hip-width apart. Stretch your arms and raise them. Then place your right arm at the back of your shoulder, close to your spine. Put the left hand on your right elbow to hold the position and feel the stretch. Gently pull the right elbow down and closer to your head. Hold the pose for two minutes. Switch arms and repeat.
Most effective for: Neck, shoulders, back and triceps
Sit on the floor and then bend your knee bent at 90-degrees. The calf should be perpendicular to the body and the sole of your foot should face to the left. Flex your right foot. Let your right leg rest flat on the floor. Place your left knee to the left of your body, and bend the knee so that your foot is behind you. Keep your left foot flexed. Hold the position for up to two minutes. Repeat the exercise with the left leg in front.
Most effective for: Hips
Put both hands on the floor. Gently place both knees on the floor and keep them wider than shoulder-width. Make sure to flex your feet and make outward right angles with them. Rest the inner edges of your feet on the floor. Shift your hips back towards your heels. Move from your hands to your forearms. Hold the pose for two-three minutes.
Most effective for: Hips, back and shoulders
Sit on the floor with your back straight and your legs in front of you. Pull your legs closer to you and bend your knees. Make the soles of your feet touch each other. Place your hands above the ankles. Push your upper body forward and keep pressing your knees closer to the floor. Hold the stretch for about two minutes.
Most effective for: Hips, back and thighs
Sit on the floor with your legs in front of you. Take both your arms and clasp your hands behind your lower back. Extend the arms and squeeze the shoulder blades together. Hold the stretch for five seconds and then release. Repeat the exercise for 7-10 times.
Most effective for: Neck, shoulders and upper back
Kneel on the floor with your legs together and back straight. Then push your left leg out to the side. Keep the right leg bent. Take your right arm and extend it overhead. Rest your left arm on your left leg. Slowly bend your upper body to the left. Hold the position for two minutes and then repeat the exercise with extending your right leg out.
Most effective for: Groin, hips and inner thighs
Kneel on your left knee and place your right foot flat in front of you. Bend the right knee and make a right angle with it. Lean forward and stretch your left hip closer to the floor. Squeeze your butt as that will allow you to stretch your hip more. Hold the posture for up to two minutes and then switch the legs and repeat the exercise.
Most effective for: Hips and quads
Lie on your stomach with both your arms perpendicular to your head. This way your body is in a T-shape. Push off the ground with your left hand and bend your left knee as you roll to your right side. The more pressure you exert, the more you'll be able to stretch and roll your body further. Repeat the exercise on the other side.
Most effective for: Chest and shoulders
Lie flat on your back and keep both your legs extended. Lift up your left leg and pull your left knee closer to your chest. Keep the right knee straight and your lower back pressed into the floor. Hold the position for two minutes and then repeat the exercise with your right leg.
Most effective for: Lower back, hips and hamstrings
Sit on the floor with your back upright and chest lifted. Turn your head to the left towards the left shoulder. Take your left hand and press the head closer to the left shoulder. Rest your right hand on the floor to balance your stance. Hold the posture for about two minutes and then repeat the exercise by stretching your neck to the right side.
Most effective for: Neck and shoulders
Lie flat on your stomach and extend your legs behind you. Lift up your torso by placing both your elbows down on the floor and your hands pressed onto the ground. Press your hips and thighs into the floor and try to stretch your spine keeping the shoulders relaxed. Sit up till you feel a sufficient stretch in your lower back.
Most effective for: Lower back, chest and shoulders
Kneel down and keep your feet hip-length wide apart. Bend your upper body forward and rest the weight on your hands. Push your hips up and back halfway towards your heels. Exert pressure on your back and shoulders by extending your arms. Make sure to keep your arms straight and not bent. Hold the position for two minutes.
Most effective for: Back and shoulders
Lie on your back and extend your legs. Then turn to your left side with your head resting on your left arm. Bend your right knee towards your chest and let it touch the floor. Bend your left knee and grab your left foot with your right hand. Keep your upper body and leg in a straight line and gently bring your shoulder blade closer to the floor. To stretch your spine, turn your head to look over your right shoulder. Hold the posture for two minutes and then repeat it with the other leg.
Most effective for: Quads, obliques, hips and back
Lie flat on your back and extend your legs in front. Rest your arms on the sides and gently bend your knees to make the sole of your feet touch. Try to touch the ankles on the floor. Stretch the leg by pressuring them closer to the floor. Hold the posture for two minutes and then repeat thrice.
Most effective for: Inner thighs, hips and groin
Stand tall on the ground with your legs about 10 inches apart. Lift your left leg and bend your knee. Use your left hand to pull your left foot closer to your left butt cheek. Make sure to keep your knees together. Exert pressure on your thigh by pressing the left foot closer to the butt. Keep your balance intact else take the support of a wall. Hold the pose for 30 seconds and then repeat the exercise with your right foot.
Most effective for: Quads and thighs
Lie flat on your back and extend your legs. Then pull your knees closer to your chest with both your hands. Keep getting them closer to feel a deeper stretch. Hold the posture for two minutes and then release. Repeat the exercise for 7-8 times.
Most effective for: Lower back
Stand tall on your feet and then take a split stance bringing your right foot forward and keeping the left foot back. Bend the left knee and tailbone an inch closer to the floor and keep the spine straight. Hold the posture for 30 seconds and then repeat the exercise with keeping the left foot forward.
Most effective for: Psoas muscle, hips and lower back
Sit straight and extend your legs in front of you. Bend the torso closer to your knees. Try to touch the head to your knees to feel a stretch in your lower back. Gently bend the upper body forward. Hold the posture for 10 seconds and then repeat the exercise seven times.
Most effective for: Hamstrings and lower back
Lie on your back on the floor. Take your left foot and cross it over your right quad. Then lift your right leg up and place both hands on the back of your right thigh. Gently pull the right leg towards the chest. Hold the posture for two minutes. Switch sides and repeat the exercise.
Most effective for: Hips, lower back and hamstrings
Stand tall on your feet and keep them hip-length wide apart. Take your right arm and place it diagonally across your left shoulder. Take the left arm and coil it around your right arm. Then pull your right arm closer to your chest by exerting pressure on it with your left arm. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds and then repeat it five times. Do the same exercise five times by switching the arm.
Most effective for: Shoulder and back
Try for yourself and you’ll see the results soon. Make sure to not exert your body when you begin. Take it slow and increase the time of your fitness regime gradually. In case of a muscle pull or sprain, consult a doctor before you continue exercising again. Wear comfortable clothing and stretch when your body is warm. Hope this helps you start!
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