Keep your whole body flexible with this full body stretching routine. Flexibility is an important component of fitness and you should always allow time for stretching in your schedule. If you can’t fit a stretch in at the end of your workout, it’s fine to stretch any other time that your muscles are warm. The instructions below give you all the technique points to ensure that the target muscle is stretched properly. For best results, do the routine at least 3 times a week.
Why stretching is important
It’s not good to have tight muscles. This is because they will restrict movement and be more likely to suffer tears and strains. In order to keep our muscles flexible, we need to stretch them to their full length regularly. For most people, this isn’t something that happens in normal everyday activity. In fact, many people have jobs in which they don’t move much at all, or use the same muscles in repetitive movements. Regular stretching will therefore help to stop muscles getting tight and problems developing.
Benefits of stretching
Your muscles should be warm before you stretch. This could be from a workout, from general activity such as walking or household chores, or from doing warm up exercises, like these.
You need some sort of cushioning for the floor exercises. If you don’t have an exercise mat, then use a folded blanket or something similar.
Stretches should never be forced. You should stretch to the point where you feel a little tension and then hold that position for at least 30 seconds.
#1 Calf stretch
- Stand with feet pointing forwards, about hip distance apart, front knee bent and back leg straight.
- Press your back heel into the floor to feel the stretch on your back calf.
#2 Hip flexor stretch
- Get into the position shown, back knee on the floor, front knee bent and directly over the heel.
- Ease your back leg out behind until you feel a stretch on the muscles at the top of your back thigh.
#3 Chest stretch
- Stand with your feet about hip distance apart and clasp your hands behind your back, so that you feel a stretch across your chest.
- Make sure that you don’t arch your lower back.
#4 Quad stretch
- You may need to put your hand on a wall or chair for support.
- Stand tall with your legs close together. Flex the knee of the leg you are stretching to take your ankle behind your body and take hold of your ankle. Make sure your thighs stay together.
#5 Side stretch
- Stand with your feet about hip distance.
- Extend one arm over your head as you bend to the side, resting the other hand on your body for support.
#6 Neck & shoulder stretch
- Stand with your feet hip distance. Bend your neck to one side and use your hand to gently increase the stretch. You should feel the stretch at the top of your shoulder and along your neck.
#7 Back stretch 1
- Get into an all-4 kneeling position and stretch your spine upwards towards the ceiling.
#8 Back stretch 2
- Now sit back on your heels and stretch your arms forwards in front of your head.
#9 Inner thigh stretch
- Sit with your legs as wide as is comfortable for you.
- Rotate your upper body towards one of your legs.
- Hold onto this leg with your hands.
#10 Hamstring stretch
- Lie on the floor with one leg bent,. Gently pull the other leg towards you, holding onto it with both hands either on the calf or above the knee.
- Hold the position when you feel the stretch along the back of the leg.
- If your hamstrings are tight and you can’t stretch far enough for your hands to reach your leg, then use a band or scarf around your foot as shown below:
#11 Glute stretch
- From the hamstring stretch position, bend your top leg and rest your foot on the knee of your other leg. Hold onto your underneath leg and gently pull it towards you to feel the stretch in your top leg.
#12 Lying hip flexor stretch
- Lie on your back and bring one knee towards your chest. You should feel the stretch in the straight leg.