3 must-do stretches

19 Nov

Like I said in my previous post, the importance of stretching cannot be ignored. No matter whether you are exercising or not, stretching can benefit you in so many ways.

There are thousands of stretches that you can do for each part of the body and coming from a background of artistic gymnastics I have a whole library full of choices. To avoid overloading your brain with too many stretches I have picked the ones that I feel are the easiest to do for all levels and will stretch the important areas.

1. Hip Flexor stretch 

This stretch is vital for those of you who spend the day sat down. Sitting down all day will tighten the hip flexors and overtime this tightness can cause other problems.

To progress the stretch, push the foot in front further away from you and really push down on the hip behind. You can even put your hand on the hip to give it a little extra push.

Hold the stretch for 15 seconds in a static position (no bouncing) and then switch legs. Repeat each leg 2 – 3 times and push a little further each time.

 

2. Quadricep Stretch

This stretch is a progression of the hip flexor stretch. It requires good balance so if you feel the need to, hold onto someone or something whilst performing this stretch.

Quadriceps are used more than you might think. They are responsible for helping you sit down and stand up from a chair, walking up or down the stairs, cycling, walking… even going to the toilet! You need to treat them well to keep them in good working order for the day to day tasks.

I prefer this one to the standing quadricep stretch simply because you can get much more of a stretch due to the angle at the hip being wider.

Place your right hand on your right knee, for balance, whilst the left arm reaches back to grab the left foot. Slowly lift the foot until you feel the stretch and hold it for 15 seconds. Do the same thing on the other side, holding it for 15 seconds also. Repeat each leg 2 – 3 times trying to progress each time.

 

3. Hamstring Stretch

“Can you touch your toes?”

This is something I get asked a lot, especially when people find out I’ve been doing gymnastics since I was little. The answer is yes! I can touch my toes, but it’s not just because I am ‘naturally flexible’ I also work very hard on maintaining this flexibility by putting in lots of stretching time.

In this picture you can see I am holding small weights. This sometimes helps to keep me in the position I want to be in. This picture shows me with my legs together however this is something to works towards.

Start with your legs a little wider than you would have them for a squat. Keeping them straight (this is a must!) slowly lower yourself down trying to keep a straight back. Wherever you get to, grab that part of your leg and pull yourself closer to it. If its just below the knee, thats ok. Just grab the knee and gently pull yourself closer. Hold in this position for 15 seconds and slowly come up allowing your knees to bend on the way up. 

This stretch wont improve over night. It needs lots of practice so give it time. Gradually move your legs closer together and follow the same procedure of pulling yourself closer to your legs and soon you will find yourself able to touch your toes with no problem!

 

These 3 stretches are a great place to start when trying to make time for stretching in your day. Do them as often as you can and I promise, you will start to see results. It is very important to be sensible when you stretch. Do not push yourself too far into a stretch as this will cause injuries. Move slowly, breathe deeply and stop when you feel a good level of resistance!

 

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