Stretching Exercises to Increase Flexibility

Whether you’re cooling down after a run or doing a few stretches at your desk when work is starting to become a pain in the neck (literally), most of us recognize the benefits of stretching. But we can also probably admit that we’re not doing enough of it. So let’s take a closer look at what stretching exercises can do for your body and how to make it part of your everyday routine.

When was the last time you worked on your flexibility? Let’s be honest — it’s probably not at the top of your list of things to do. Nevertheless, stretching exercises are not only useful for preparing the body for exercise but help reduce injury. It improves your posture, minimizes injury risks, and helps you relax.

So let’s focus on a few stretching exercises that will make you say, “aaaah”. If you’d like to see a full 30-minute exercise, then I also highly recommend this beginner’s flexibility routine by MadFit. However, first, start with these routine stretches and then work your way up. Let’s begin…

Quadricep Stretches

Start by standing upright with your feet hip-width apart. Now lift your right heel off the ground with your right hand and draw it towards your buttocks. Now feel that wonderful stretch on your front thigh and then repeat on the other leg.

Wide Fold Stretch

Begin by standing with your feet wider than your shoulders and parallel. Hinge at the hips and bring your torso in front of your thighs. This will allow your head to relax and will shift the weight toward the balls of your feet to open up the backs of your legs. Hold for a few breaths, then return to standing. That’s one rep.  Now aim for three to five.

Seated Neck Stretch

This is a great stretch that you can perform anytime.

Start by turning your chin to the right and towards your chest. Place your right hand over the top of your head, and gently pull your head down toward the right. You will feel a stretch in your neck (in the area known as the left trapezius). If you touch the left side of your neck with your left hand, you will feel the tight muscle being stretched.

Make time to practice this stretching exercise if you work in front of a desk. Your neck will thank you for it later.

Hamstring Stretch

You didn’t think I’d forget the hamstrings, did you? While this muscle group can often be the tightest, that’s because it’s often the most overlooked. If you’re not familiar, the hamstring muscle runs along the back of your upper leg.

To begin, find a mat or a clean spot to lie down. Once comfortable, raise your left leg and rest your left heel in the air, gently straightening it. Do you feel that? Try holding that position for 30 seconds and then switch legs.

If this is your first time in a while to stretch your hamstrings, this may be more challenging than you think. For veterans, try to maximize the stretch by gradually scooting yourself closer to the wall or door frame.

Finally…

Did these stretching exercises work for you? Was there a favorite mobility move that I forgot to list? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Please feel free to reach me at hello@heartandsoulblog.com. Also, if stretching is part of your workout, consider 5 Cool Down Exercises for Workout Recovery. Also, be sure to subscribe to the Heart & Soul Newsletter to receive more great tips straight to your inbox each Friday.

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