Stretching is one of the best methods for increasing your overall flexibility, especially since it has a great effect on tight muscles. Performed on a regular basis, stretches can help you improve your training performance and avoid exercise-related injuries at the same time. About the type of stretches, you can opt for the classic, static ones or try the modern, dynamic stretches. Either way, you go, consistency is the key. So, if you are interested in developing a lean, limber body, all you have to do is try out the stretches presented in the paragraphs below. Always research your workouts and discover the benefits that each has to offer; you can then move on to another subject, discovering, for example, the health benefits of drinking water.
Best stretches for a lean, limber body
• Spine stretch
If you are interested in stretching your entire spine, this is the exercise you want to try out. Begin by sitting on the floor, with the feet wide apart and the knees completely extended. Bring your head forward, with the chin towards the chest. Extend your arms and try to reach towards the floor; depending on your level of flexibility, you might be able to support your hands, or at least your fingers, on the floor. Maintain the stretch for a little bit, then return and repeat.
• Runner’s stretch
The runner’s stretch, as its name points out, is often used by professional athletes (runners, joggers). It allows them to properly warm up before a run, thus reducing the risk of injury. You can begin this stretch by assuming a standing position; bring your right foot forward and position yourself into a lunge. The fingertips should be supported on the floor. Straighten your right leg and try to maintain the stretch. Return and repeat. Switch sides and repeat.
- Calf stretch
The calf stretch is great for those who have tight calf muscles, as well as for those who suffer from arthritis muscle pain. You can begin by standing, at a close distance from a wall. The right foot should be placed behind the left one. The left leg should be slightly bent, the back straight and the hips forward. Maintain the stretch for a little bit, then return and repeat. Switch sides and repeat.
- Long stretch
The long stretch is perfect for stretching those tight spinal muscles. You can begin by assuming a standing position, with the feet wide apart. While you inhale, brings your hands above your head (elbows extended). Maintain the stretch for a little bit, then exhale and return to the initial position. Repeat several times.
- Quad stretch
The quadriceps muscles can benefit tremendously from this stretch. You can begin by assuming a standing position, with the feet close to one another and the hips straight. What you want to do is bend your right knee, backward, using the right hand to keep the forefoot (right as well). Maintain the stretch for a little bit, then return and repeat. Switch sides and repeat.
• Glute & piriformis stretch
This particular stretch can help you reduce the tension felt in the gluteal muscles, as well as at the level of the piriformis (deep muscle of the hip). You can begin by assuming a standing position; then, you can raise your right foot, with the knee flexed and the ankle resting on the opposing leg. Maintain a squatting position, with the hands resting comfortably on the hips. Switch sides and repeat.
• Knee-to-chest stretch
The knee-to-chest stretch is recommended for those who want to free tight spinal muscles in the lumbar area, as well as for those who suffer from low back pain. You can begin by lying in supine, with the hands kept on the lateral sides of the body. Using your hands, bring one of your knees towards your chest, maintaining the stretch for a little bit. Repeat several times, then switch sides
Studies confirm the benefits of stretching exercises
According to a review published in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, there are three types of stretching techniques that one can resort to, meaning static, dynamic and pre-contraction stretches. All of these stretching forms, performed on a regular basis, can increase the overall range of motion (increased flexibility).
Stretching can help professional athletes and amateurs to enhance their overall performance and reduce the risk of injuries, as it is shown in a study published in Physical Therapy Reviews. The study draws attention to the fact that stretching performed before physical exercise can provide all of the above-mentioned benefits.
It is also true that stretching exercises can help one improve his/her posture, this fact being confirmed in a study published in MTP & Rehab Journal. The stretching exercises recommended for particular groups of muscles can prevent and correct postural deviations.
If you want to truly have a lean and limber body, you have to consider stretching as a form of warm-up before any physical exercise. As you have seen for yourself, stretching can help you work on tight muscles, increase the overall range of motion and be more flexible. Moreover, it can reduce the risk of exercise-related injuries and also help you improve your posture. Performed on a regular basis, yoga stretches can be useful in maintaining healthy joints and strong muscles. You won’t have to worry about age-related skeletal or muscular problems.