Stretching is one of the most important parts of your workout, but it’s also the most skipped and underestimated parts, as well. Stretching keeps your muscles loose and limber, which can increase your range of motion, improve your form and ability, and help prevent injuries. No matter how tough your workout is or what you did, you should stretch every time you exercise Here are a few great stretches you can (and should) do after your workout.
Tight hamstrings can lead to knee and lower back pain and eventually lead to major injuries. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bending at the hips, hinge forward to get as close as you can to touch your toes. Try to keep your back flat so you can get the best hamstring stretch. You can also do this same stretch sitting down.
Figure Four Stretch
This stretches your IT band and glutes muscles. Lie on your back with your right foot planted on the ground. Place your left ankle over your knee. Grab behind your right thigh and bring your leg into your chest. If you need a little more, push your left knee away from you and flex your left foot. Repeat on the other side.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Take a step forward with your right leg so you are almost in a lunge position. You don’t need to go fully into a lunge, though. Square your hips off so that they face forward. Tuck your tailbone and engage your abs until you feel the stretch in the front of your right hip. Repeat on the other side. You can also do this stretch with your back knee on the ground.
You’ll need to stand on one leg for this stretch, so you might want to find a wall or something to hold on to for support. Bring your right foot to your glute and grab the top of your foot to bring it closer. Tuck your tailbone so you feel the stretch in the front of your thigh. Repeat on the other side.
Stand with your left foot in front of your right foot. Bend your left knee as much as you can while keeping your right heel on the ground. Lean forward with your back flat so that you feel a stretch in your calf. Repeat on the left side.
Standing upright, clasp your hands behind your back. Raise your arms behind you and squeeze your shoulder blades together, pushing your chest forward.
Bend your arm and raise it so that your forearm is behind your head and your elbow is facing the ceiling. Place your other hand on your elbow to push your arm down for a deeper stretch.
Hold a towel in both hands in front you. Keeping your arms straight, lift your arms and the towel over your head and behind your back as far as you can without pain.
Lower Back Stretch
This stretch is borrowed from yoga. Kneel on your knees with your bum on your ankles. Move your torso forward so your stomach is against the tops of your thighs. Bring your arms forward until you feel a pull in your lower back.