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?
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.
My Top Ten Favorite Stretches
Seated Piriformis (Booty) Stretch and Spinal Twist
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
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
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”)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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?