After another tough week at the gym, I can’t help but notice how sore I and many other members are. I have never felt my hamstrings more in my life! It’s obvious many of us need to spend more time foam rolling and stretching following every training session so we can get back up and do it all again the next day. Here are a few simple but effective stretches you can do after lifting, before bed, or even while watching tv!
For your hips…
- Get into a kneeling position. Put one leg out in front of you with a bent knee. Slowly lean as far forward as possible until you feel the stretch in the top of your hip and into your quad. After 1 minute, switch legs and repeat. As a bonus stretch that requires some balance, you can try and reach behind you and grab the foot of the kneeling leg and pull it in towards your butt and you will feel a pull in your quad.
- You can feel a similar stretch standing up if you stagger your legs and lean your upper body back. After 1 minute, switch legs and repeat.
- The spiderman stretch we do a lot in class is also a great way to open up your hips!
For your hamstrings…
- Get into a kneeling position. Put one leg out in front, similar to the stretch for your hips, but keep the leg in front as straight as possible. Reach down and try to grab your toes, or as close to them as you can get. After 1 minute, switch legs and repeat.
- Sit down with your legs stretched out in front of you. Try once again to reach your toes. After 1 minute, spread your legs and spend 1 minute stretching towards your right, and 1 minute towards your left.
For your back…
- Lay down on your stomach. Push your hands into the floor and lift your upper body off of the floor while keeping your legs glued to the ground. You’ll feel your lower back open up a lot.
- “Cat Cow”: Get onto all fours. Start by rounding your back like a cat when it stretches. After a few seconds, do the exact opposite and stick your butt in the air, making your back from a “u” shape. Switch between these two for 1 minute.
- Sit down with your legs stretched out and spread. Have someone slowly push your upper body closer and closer to your toes. This will open up your entire back. Don’t forget to breathe during this, it will help you get even closer to your toes and further into the stretch.
Stretching is absolutely necessary for a strong and healthy body. However, there are some definite do’s and don’ts when it comes to stretching. Static stretching should really only be done after a good amount of movement. Your muscles are warm enough in this state that you will get more of a stretch and not risk tearing a muscle. Dynamic stretching is usually incorporated into warm ups and consists of quick stretching movements that allow the muscles to prepare for the activity ahead, but don’t completely destroy the muscle. To get 110% out of each workout, stretching is a key component and something that is easy enough to be completed in the gym or at home, so there’s no excuse not to!