Stretch It Real Good

by tinareale on March 8, 2012

So yesterday, I talked all about learning to trust our bodies and pushing just a bit out of our comfort zones on occasion. Of course, that post must have been SO inspiring that you all went out and killed a tough workout yesterday. Right? Just let me have my happy little thought that I got you that inspired, mmmkay? Winking smile

Since I know you went out and had that killer workout, I figured you might want a way to help relieve those sore muscles. Or, if you’re doing the Best Body Bootcamp, you may be cursing me under your breath right about now and I want a way to make it up to you. Enter a post with my favorite stretches to keep my body feeling peachy keen. << I’m allowed to say that. I’m a Georgia girl.

IMGP3536-2

Pin It

My Top Ten Favorite Stretches

Seated Piriformis (Booty) Stretch and Spinal Twist

IMGP3536-1

Sit with one leg extended straight out in front of you and the other bent at the knee. Place the heel of the bent knee on the outside of the straight leg. Rotate your body, keeping upper body straight. Gently push your arm into the bent leg to deepen the stretch.

Calf and Hamstring Stretch with Resistance Tubing

IMGP3538-1

Lie flat on your back, with one leg extended straight out on the floor. Loop resistance tubing around the bottom of the opposite foot and extend leg out to a 90 degree angle. Gently pull your foot toward you while also pulling your leg back towards your chest.

Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

IMGP3541-1

Kneel on the floor or mat. Step forward with one leg until you can plant that foot in front of you with a 90 degree bend in the knee. Extend the rear leg as much as possible, gently pushing your hips down and forward to open up the stretch.

Lying Stretch for the Iliotibial Band (aka “The Roadkill”)

IMGP3543-1

Sit down on the mat or floor. Bend one leg so your foot comes back towards your gluteus. Extend the opposite leg. Slowly roll back onto your back. Lower the knee of the bent leg to the floor as much as you can for a gentle stretch.

“Let It Hang” Hamstring and Lower Back Stretch

IMGP3545-1

Stand with feet together. Bend forward at the hips, allowing your upper body to hang. You should feel a gentle stretch in your hamstrings and lower back.

Standing Calf Stretch

IMGP3548-1

Extend one leg behind you, planting your heel into the floor. The front leg should be bent at a 90 degree angle. Lean forward slightly, while keeping the rear foot planted, until you feel a gentle stretch in your calf.

Back Stretch with Stability Ball

IMGP3549-1

Place one hand on a stability ball. Slowly roll the ball away from you while dropping your hips down, extending through the side and upper part of your back.

Standing Chest Stretch

IMGP3554-1

Place both hands on opposite sides of a door frame. Lean forward and push chest through for a gentle stretch through the chest. And don’t worry…it’s normal to look like a “wannabe seductive housewife”. #awkwardphoto

Upper Trap and Neck Stretch

IMGP3551-1

Place one arm around your lower back. Gently grab the hand of the arm behind your back and pull it slightly,  while dropping your ear to your shoulder, until you feel a stretch in your neck and shoulders.

Hip Adductor Stretch

IMGP3552-1

Stand with feet wide apart. Slowly bend one knee and lower down as far as possible, keeping the other leg straight. Make sure to keep your hands firmly planted as a base and place your weight in your hands, as your knee may extend over your toe in the bent leg.

HOW TO USE THEM

I generally go through the above stretches in a short stretching routine. I get out my phone and turn the stopwatch function on. You could also use a clock with a second hand…or count if you have that kind of focus. I don’t. I’m a scatter brain…so stopwatch on the phone it is.

When stretching as recovery and to restore the muscles to the proper length tension relationship, you should focus on holding each stretch for 20-30 seconds. You want to hold each stretch for at least 20 seconds so the muscle has a chance to reach the point of autogenic inhibition (aka the muscle releasing the tension). I hold each stretch on each side, then move to the next. This provides a solid 10 minute stretching routine.

Make sure you maintain good posture throughout  – core drawn in, spine straightened, head in neutral alignment, shoulders down and back. Take deep breaths and try to lower deeper into the stretch with each exhale. You shouldn’t feel any tugging or pain while stretching. Also, make sure not to pull and overextend the stretches, which places unnecessary tension on your joints.

Make stretching a regular habit and your flexibility will improve with time. This will also help your body maintain proper length tension relationships (the normal resting state of muscles) to help improve overall function and performance in all activities.

Your Turn – What is your favorite stretch? How often do you stretch?

{ 57 comments }

1 Miz March 8, 2012 at 6:08 am

I need.
HUSBAND NEEDS.
both the reminders and the guide.
Im sending him your way :)

2 Tara Burner March 8, 2012 at 6:35 am

I never stretch.
Well when I’m doing yoga obviously some of those poses are but otherwise I don’t
pinned it :)

3 Katie @ Raisins&Apples March 8, 2012 at 7:01 am

ooo I like that back stretch with the stability ball—definitely trying that after Saturday’s run!

4 cindy March 8, 2012 at 7:17 am

The PT in me does not like the IT band stretch!!!! It puts a lot of stress on the medial knee.

The hamstring stretch is even better when you use a towel, rather than the band. You want the “stretch” to come from the muscle, not the band, so using an object with less “give” like a towel or a rope is more effective.

5 tinareale March 8, 2012 at 10:15 am

Thanks for the suggestions! :)

6 Nicole March 8, 2012 at 7:26 am

I’ve been trying to be really good about stretching! going to go through this when i get back from my walk/run!

7 Sabrina @ Customized Creations March 8, 2012 at 7:30 am

These are great! I’m always forgetting to stretch and when I do, I’m not sure which ones to do. Now, I just have to remember to stretch before and after. LOL!

8 Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean March 8, 2012 at 7:31 am

ah the standing chest stretch is my fav!!

9 Lauren @ What Lauren Likes March 8, 2012 at 7:36 am

Love this! I always forget to stretch my back :)

10 Maryea @ Happy Healthy Mama March 8, 2012 at 7:49 am

Oh I’m so bad about stretching. It’s all I can do to fit a workout in and I’m supposed to STRETCH too?! Ahhhhh!

11 Lauren March 8, 2012 at 7:54 am

Great stretches – I love the kneeling hip flexor one! I’ve been really good at stretching during marathon training and have started a nightly routine of foam rolling + stretching (while I watch TV or something). I also have been trying to get to a yoga class the night of or the next day after a long run – it felt so good after my 13 miler yesterday.

12 Lee March 8, 2012 at 8:13 am

I love the seated piriformis stretch. That area of my body, especially the right side, is always so tight.

13 Cheryl @ Happy is the new healthy March 8, 2012 at 8:25 am

I NEEDED THIS! I feel like it’s HARD to get into a good stretching routine but you seem to have covered it all!

My fav stretch is probably reclining hero, or maybe pigeon. Love. I also thoroughly enjoy relaxing with my legs up the wall… and now I want to do yoga!

14 Katrina @ 'Sota is Sexy March 8, 2012 at 8:30 am

I am guilty of not stretching as much as I should…maybe that should be one of my goals for the Best Body Fitness boot camp!

When I do stretch, my favorite is the Pigeon stretch that you do in yoga. Feels SOOO good on sore legs and hips.

15 Alyse March 8, 2012 at 8:37 am

I liked doing “The Roadkill” when I was a kid just ‘cuz it was fun. I just tried to do the Hip Abductor Stretch and fell over. I’ll have to work on that. haha.

What a clean house you have. *sigh* I think one of my healthy Best Body Boot Camp goals for week 3 will be to keep my house clean. That would definitely resolve feeling overwhelmed and make me healthier and happy.

16 Heather (Where's the Beach) March 8, 2012 at 8:38 am

I am a firm believer in stretching. It’s definitely a throw back to my dancer days, but so glad I’ve kept it up.

17 Michelle@PeachyPalate March 8, 2012 at 8:53 am

You are some sort of mind reader! I haven’t been stretching enough at all lately and now my hamstrings are paying me back for it! Great post!

18 Fiona @ Get Fit Fiona March 8, 2012 at 9:09 am

Love these stretches! Thanks for sharing them.

19 Lauren March 8, 2012 at 9:10 am

I am ashamed to admit that I don’t stretch nearly as much as I know I should. Funny because I always gripe on my spin classes that we NEED to stretch and get them to stay through the cool-down but when I’m working out on my own, I hardly ever take enough time to do the same. Do as I say, not as I do…. :)

20 Sue @ Sue In Training March 8, 2012 at 9:13 am

Great post! So many new ideas. I stretch after every single workout. Seriously! I hate feeling tight and love feeling flexible.
My favorite is the “Let it hang”. One day I want to touch the floor with my palms, just like my husband. I’m so close!
Btw, that “roadkill” move looks scary!

21 Jamie @ Don't Forget the Cinnamon March 8, 2012 at 9:15 am

Oooh I’ve never done that IT band stretch before–thanks so much for sharing! I’ve been having trouble with my IT band lately!

My favorite stretch is pigeon pose. It’s a bit uncomfortable to get into but feels so good after!! I ALWAYS stretch after workouts and sometimes go through a few sun salutations on rest days to stretch my body out without straining anything!

22 Karen@WaistingTime March 8, 2012 at 9:22 am

I never stretch as much as I should:( I did go back to yoga in January and I count that. Right now some of my favorite stretches are yoga moves.

23 Jen @nutcaseinpoint March 8, 2012 at 9:22 am

I love child’s pose and ANY glute stretch!

24 Athena @ Fitness & Feta March 8, 2012 at 9:37 am

Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch! Love, love, love.

25 jobo March 8, 2012 at 9:41 am

I am reading this just after running with Jess (she’s reading it too! hehe) and I am TOTALLY going to do these in a little while after my coffee settles. I definitely need that ‘roadkill’ stretch!! tightest hips ever. Awesome post!

26 Jess March 8, 2012 at 9:41 am

LOVE these stretches!! I do most of these religiously now that I FINALLY recognize the importance of stretching after EVERY workout (running or otherwise). It makes a huge difference and it feels so good after all is said and done. Sure, it means carving out the time to get it done, but its WORTH it. Don’t skimp! I am totally trying the roadkill stretch later today. I’ve already stretched once (after my run) but am feeling really tight today so I’m thinking a second stretch is in order :)

27 Gina @ Running to the Kitchen March 8, 2012 at 9:43 am

Pigeon pose/stretch is my savior when I’m running a lot. Hurts.so.good.

28 Ashleysh22 March 8, 2012 at 9:49 am

The kneeling hip flexor stretch is definately one of my favorites! I just discovered it a few weeks ago when I started doing Les Mills Pump. It really just feels soooooo good. I also do a tricep stretch while I do it and lead to one side so I am truly stretching LOTS of muscles at the same time.

I’m definately curious about that IT band stretch you have up there. You look in such a strange position. Might have to try that myself.

Thanks for these!

29 Heather @ Better With Veggies March 8, 2012 at 9:51 am

Stretching is key to injury prevention too, although it’s easy to skip when you’re in a hurry if you’re not careful! I also use yoga as a great stretching routine, when I have a little more time!

30 Megan March 8, 2012 at 9:54 am

Thank you! I need to stretch more and these are excellent exercises!

31 Cat @ Breakfast to Bed March 8, 2012 at 10:00 am

don’t lie, when you were in labor you did the child’s pose on the ball too, didn’t you?

32 Alyssa @ Don't Look Down March 8, 2012 at 10:07 am

I love stretching my neck and shoulders since they get tense from sitting at a desk most of the day.
Can’t wait to try that IT band stretch. When I foam roll my IT bands I make whimpering noises because it hurts so much!

33 tinareale March 8, 2012 at 10:17 am

A PT commented that that stretch puts a lot of stress on the knee so do proceed with caution. If anything doesn’t feel right I suggest the standing ITB stretch. :)

34 Alayna @ Thyme Bombe March 8, 2012 at 10:08 am

Awesome stretches. I’m so bad about stretching enough before a workout and almost never afterwards.

35 Kerry March 8, 2012 at 10:30 am

Great post!! Some awesome stretches there!

36 Dena @ 40 Fit in the Mitt March 8, 2012 at 10:33 am

These are great and I plan on doing them after our Boot Camp workouts, which by the way I am loving. I really love trying all these new exercises! Thanks Drill Sergeant Tina:-)

37 Rebecca @ Miss Magnolia Munches & Moves March 8, 2012 at 10:45 am

I don’t stretch nearly enough! We always stretch as a class before our CrossFit WODs using PVC piping (pull throughs, around the worlds) and doing some yoga type poses for the lower body.

38 Yellow Haired Girl March 8, 2012 at 10:57 am

I love stretching!!!! I do it in front of the TV … I get bored just sitting on the couch. I really like the “road kill” and any kind of back stretch I can think of. It’s totally mindless for me now, I just strrrrrrretch away every night – part of my routine!

39 Ali @ Around the VeggieTable March 8, 2012 at 11:01 am

I used to do yoga all the time so I was really flexible and stretched constantly. Now that I’ve gotten more into running, yoga has fallen to the back burner and I NEVER stretch now! I feel really guilty about it at least though. I will definitely try this. Is once a week good enough? What do you mean by “regularly?” :) I would like to stretch at little as possible lol

40 Rachel @RunningRachel March 8, 2012 at 11:04 am

Great stretches!! I need to remember to stretch more.. it feels so good when I do! :)

41 Karen March 8, 2012 at 11:54 am

I will admit that I do not stretch nearly as much as I should!! There are so many good benefits to stretching!

42 Annie March 8, 2012 at 12:26 pm

OMG this is super great!

Now that I’ve got a good ST routine down at home, I’ve been trying to figure out a good one for stretching afterwards that hits all the muscles, and well, you just did the work for me. (I have zero fitness background, so it’s tough for me!)

Thanks once again for imparting your wonderful knowledge. Will use this starting after tomorrow morning’s workout!

43 Carol @ Lucky Zucca March 8, 2012 at 12:29 pm

Yay! I needed this post. This is one of my goals next week I think. Stretch every day.

44 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats March 8, 2012 at 12:52 pm

These are some great stretches that I’ll add into my routine! I feel like I do nothing BUT stretch these days, especially with my foot problems. I stretch when I wake up, before I go to bed, before and after workouts, and sometimes just when I feel like it!

45 chelsey @ clean eating chelsey March 8, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Even though I’m not doing anything incredibly strenuous these days, I still enjoy a good stretch!!!

46 Tamara March 8, 2012 at 1:02 pm

Thanks Tina!
This is a great resource to point my PT clients too!
Love it!

47 Lauren @ Oatmeal after Spinning March 8, 2012 at 1:11 pm

I actually really love stretching my neck- leaning my head over ear towards shoulder and pushing down the opposite hand. I build in 5 minutes for stretching at the end of the Spinning classes I teach, but a lot of people just rush out without cooling down or stretching at all. I always yell to them to “make time for stretching” after they leave! So many people don’t (and it’s something that I have to force myself to do- I’m usually in a hurry to get home and get my grub on :) )

48 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss March 8, 2012 at 1:14 pm

hahaha. I really like the “wannabe seductive housewife” stretch. I honestly am really bad with my stretching. Typically, it only happens if I’m especially sore or am about to go for a run/after a run. Great idea to post about stretches!

49 Shanna like Banana March 8, 2012 at 1:21 pm

The standing chest breast is superb if you’re breastfeeding too ;) fyi

I plan on doing your NEXT bootcamp (cuz I know you’ll have one) since I’m not quite in fighting shape to do this go-round!

50 Helene @healthyfrenchie March 8, 2012 at 1:31 pm

Thank you for that! I have been slacking in the stretching department, mainly because I was not sure what to do beyond a few moves..
I’ll be sure to incorporate this routine in my workout from now on :)

51 Katie @ Talk Less, Say More March 8, 2012 at 2:29 pm

My favorite is runner’s pose in yoga and dropping down to my forearms.

52 Heather @ Run Eat Play March 8, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Great post! My muscles are always tight and sore, so I can’t wait to try these stretches out!

53 Samantha March 8, 2012 at 4:36 pm

I do so many of these already! Love them *very much*!!

54 Ana Maria March 8, 2012 at 7:19 pm

HAHA! “Aka the Roadkill”. These look great – stretching is one of my bootcamp goals, so this definitely helps! :)

55 Pure2raw twins March 8, 2012 at 10:24 pm

thank you for this, i really need to stretch more!

56 Emily @FamilyNLifeLV March 8, 2012 at 11:19 pm

Love it! I never thought to use a stability ball for the back stretch!! Pinned!

57 Mark October 30, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Great streches and they feel so good. I will be like a child again flexable and feeling young again.

{ 8 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: