Stretching prepares the body for activity and has been found to boost healing. But, not all stretching is created equal. Your stretches must be related to your activity. This ensures that your muscles, tendons and ligaments are activated in a way that prepares your body for exercise. By focusing your stretch session you’ll be able to reduce your likelihood of getting injured and boost your flexibility.
In addition to pre/post workout stretches, you should also aim to incorporate a stretch session into your daily routine to mobilise joints, and boost productivity. Here’s a great 5 minute routine for a complete body stretch:
1. High Knee Hamstring Hug
Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Stand on your left leg and lift your right leg up. Hug your knee into your chest and hold the position for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other leg. Stretches your glutes and increases hip mobility.
2. Offset Leg Lunge
Stand straight, and take one large step forward with your right leg. Go into a deep lunge. Your right leg should be at a 90 degree angle and your back knee should almost touch the floor. Then, put your left hand on the floor near your right instep. Reach up to the sky with your right arm. Your arms should be in a straight line. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds. Do the same with the other leg and arm. Stretches your groin area and legs. Also mobilises your thoracic spine, stretches out your chest area and activates your core.
3. Lying Glute Stretch
Lie on your back and bend both knees, keeping your feet on the floor. Bring your left ankle up and place it on your right thigh. Loop your hands around your right thigh. Pull your right leg it into your chest. Hold for 30 seconds then repeat with the other leg. Opens up your hips and stretches your glutes whilst preventing sudden twisting.
4. Standing Shoulder Stretch
Hold your right arm out straight then pull your right arm into your chest with your left forearm. Hold for 20 seconds then release. Now, raise your right arm over your head and bend your elbow so that your right hand is behind your left shoulder. Press gently on your right elbow with your left hand and hold for 20 seconds. Repeat with your other arm. Some of the most common weight training injuries involve the shoulder joint. Stretching this joint can help increase range of motion and reduce the likelihood of injury.