Stretch It Out

I know you’ve probably been told a thousand times that stretching before and after a workout is important (it is). However, when I was a personal trainer, I also often worked with my clients to develop a range of stretches for them to use on a daily basis, not just after exercise.

Why? Well, not only does stretching improve your strength, endurance and flexibility but it also improves your range in motion of your joints as well as boost circulation. Not only that but it’s so incredibly beneficial for your mind as well, helping to relieve tension and stress.

Here are five moves to get you started:

Active Pigeon

Begin in a push up position with your palms aligned under your shoulders. Lift your left knee towards your left elbow. Twist your left foot so that it aligns as closely as possible with your wrist on your right hand. Lower your left leg to the floor. Now, lower your right leg to the floor. Lifting your head and chest, lengthen your body. You should feel your hips open up.

Happy Baby

Begin by lying flat on your back. Bend both your knees in and hold onto the outside edges of your flexed feet with your hands, keeping your arms on the outside of your legs. Use your upper body strength to gently press both knees to the floor below your armpits. Try to keep everything relaxed. Hold this position for five deep breathes then relax.

Wide-Legged Plow Pose

Stretch your neck and back with this pose. Begin by sitting with your legs extended in front of you. Slowly roll onto your back and begin raising your hips into the air. Support your lower back with your hands, pressing your elbows into the mat. Once you have brought your legs over your head, widen them are far as what is comfortable for you. Hold for five breaths and return to the starting position.

Modified Downward Facing Dog

Start in a downward dog position. Slowly lift your right leg up keeping your foot pointed down. Lift from the back of your left, through your heel as far as you can go keeping good form. Hold for 3 breaths, return to starting position and repeat with opposite leg.

Seated Hamstring Stretch

Start this move in a seated position. Stretch your right leg out; keep your toes facing upward. Bend your left leg in with your foot resting against the inside of your thigh. Keep your back and neck in a straight and aligned position. Make sure you do not slump forward as this puts pressure on your lower back. Remaining in the neutral position, slowly lean forward until you feel the stretch in the back of your thigh. Hold for 30 seconds, return to starting position and repeat on the opposite leg.

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