Stretching exercises can take a backseat when you’re running low on time or just tired. A post-workout stretch is essential for your body. It reduces the risk of injury, increases flexibility, and even reduces pain. Stretching does not have to take long and a combination of exercises can stretch all the muscles of your body easily. Most of these stretches can be done any time during the day if you feel any kind of tightness in the body.

Benefits Of Stretching

The benefits of stretching are many and well-noted in multiple studies. Here are a few benefits of full body stretches.

  • Increased range of motion while exercising
  • Greater flexibility of joints
  • Less muscle tension and pain in back and shoulders
  • Provides stress relief
  • Increased blood flow
  • Prevents muscle stiffness and soreness

Types Of Stretching

There are two types of stretching: Static and Dynamic stretching.

Dynamic stretching involves active movements, like moving your arms or legs through a full range of motion. These stretches are usually done before you start a workout routine.

Static stretching involves stretches that you hold in place, without movement. These stretches are done at the end of your workout when your muscles are more relaxed.

8 Effective Post-Workout Stretches

1. Hip Flexor Lunge Stretch

This exercise is one of the important quad stretches that also targets the hips and glutes.

How To Do It:

  1. Kneel down on your left knee in a lunge position.
  2. Lean forward and stretch your left hip out toward the floor.
  3. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds before switching legs.

2. Cat-Cow Stretch

Back stretches target your back muscles and can also relieve back pain. Stretching should target both your upper and lower body muscles and relieve stress from the body.

How To Do It:

  1. Keep your hands and knees on the floor with your spine neutral.
  2. Inhale and drop your belly and lift the tailbone to lower into cow pose, pulling shoulder blades together and gazing up if it’s comfortable.
  3. Exhale to drop your head and tailbone and round the spine toward the ceiling for cat pose.
  4. Repeat for 2 minutes.

3. Calf & Hamstring Stretch

This exercise targets your leg muscles and is great for calf stretches. Additionally, it also works on your hamstrings too.

How To Do It:

  1. While seated, extend both legs out in front of you.
  2. Lift up and turn out your left leg so that your foot is resting against the inside of your right leg.
  3. Reach for your right foot with your right hand. If you can reach your toe, gently pull it back towards you.
  4. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and repeat on your left side. 

4. Chest Stretch

This exercise while mainly for your chest also helps in shoulder stretches.

How To Do It:

  1. Stand straight with feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Interlock your fingers behind your body.
  3. Gently lift your hands while squeezing the shoulders together and opening up the chest and hold.

5. Overhead Tricep Stretch

This stretch targets your triceps and arms and is also essential for back stretches.

How To Do It:

  1. Stand straight with feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Reach your right arm up to the ceiling, then bend your elbow to bring your right palm down toward the centre of your back.
  3. Bring your left hand up to gently pull your right elbow downward.
  4. Hold this stretch for 20 to 30 seconds before switching arms.

6. Shoulder Rotation

This is a fundamental movement for shoulder stretches that also works the arms and relieves tightness in the body.

How To Do It:

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart and arms by sides.
  2. Slowly lift the left arm forward in front of the body. Once it’s extended straight overhead, rotate palm to face away from the body and keep rotating arm back and down.
  3. Pause, then reverse the direction to slowly return to start.
  4. Repeat for 1 minute per arm.

7. Complete Leg Stretch

Quad stretches target your muscle that runs from the base of your spine to your thigh bone. This muscle can affect how well you move your hips, back, legs, and buttocks, and hence leg stretches are vital for good movement.

How To Do It:

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs extended out in front of you.
  2. Keeping your right leg flat on the floor, lift your left leg and place your left ankle on your right knee.
  3. Slightly lean forward until a stretch is felt in your buttocks. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds, then repeat with your right leg on your left knee.

8. 90-90

Full body stretches are possible with this movement. It reduces muscle soreness and is a great stretch for post-exercise.

How To Do It:

  1. Sit on the floor with the right leg bent at a 90-degree angle, the outside of the right leg on the floor, and thigh extending straight forward from right hip. Position the left thigh at a 90-degree angle from the right thigh, pointing straight to the left, with the knee bent at a 90-degree angle and inside of the leg on the floor.
  2. Placing hands lightly on the floor on either side of the right leg, gently lean forward over the right leg. Hold for 2 seconds.
  3. Sit up straight then lean back, placing hands lightly on the floor behind hips. Lean back on glutes to flip legs over to the other side, so the left leg is in a 90-degree angle in front of the body and the right leg is in a 90-degree angle extending out to the side.
  4. Place hands lightly on the floor on either side of the left leg, and gently lean forward over. Hold for 2 seconds.

Precautionary Tips

Here are a few additional tips to give you the maximum benefit from stretching.

  • As mentioned above, there are 2 types of stretching and the static stretches are to be done post-workout
  • Stretching exercises should not cause pain. You should feel mild tension as you stretch your muscles but never pain. If you feel pain, stop right away
  • Start by holding each stretch for 20 seconds and slowly increase it to 1 minute for complete benefit
  • While doing leg stretches or any other stretch watch your posture. Keep your chin up, spine straight, core engaged, and your shoulders aligned with your hips
  • Never hold your breath while stretching. This relieves stress and tension while helping you hold the position for longer
  • Start slowly and don’t try to do too much the first time you stretch after a workout. Start with just a few stretches like calf stretches, and add more repetitions and stretches as you get used to them

Stretching exercises especially after working out have many perks for your body. It gives your body a jump start on muscle recovery while increasing the flexibility of your joints. Stretching is a shortcut to good health and this is a handy guide to begin your journey towards a fit body and lifestyle.

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