ultimate guide to stretching

To stretch or not to stretch? That’s what we’re going to answer in this Ultimate Guide to Stretching.

This is among the most common questions that bother the minds of gym-goers.

If you think it’s okay to skip stretching pre and post workout, you are mistaken. A few minutes of proper stretching can do wonders, especially if your goal is to build muscles.

Stretching will help you grow muscles faster. By doing some stretching, you’re stretching your fascia and giving your muscles more room to grow.

So what’s the proper way of doing some stretches?

Ultimate Guide to Stretching Different Body Parts Properly

ultimate guide to stretching


Back

Performing back stretches does not only help you build muscle faster but it also helps improve your posture and provides relief in lower back pain.

Steps:

  1. Sit on the floor and keep your feet wider than your hips and head nodded forward.
  2. Bend forward and draw your chin into your neck.
  3. You should feel the stretch through your calf muscles, hamstrings and bottoms of the feet.
  4. Breathe normally as you feel the stretch.
  5. Slowly return to your starting position.

Hip

Tight hips can hinder the productivity of your workout session. When your muscles are working more than they should, it does not only increases your risk of injury but it also makes your workout session less productive.

Do this hip stretches to increase hip mobility and get relief from discomfort and tightness.

Steps:

  1. Start with a standing position, both feet are kept together.
  2. Make a big step forward using your left foot.
  3. Drop into a lunge by bending your left knee with the right leg kept straight behind.
  4. Keep your toes grounded on the floor.
  5. Plant your right hand on the floor and while your left arm should be extended towards the ceiling.
  6. Stay on this position for 2 minutes.
  7. Repeat the same steps on the other side.

Quadriceps

Stretching the quadriceps is great if you want your quads to have more flexibility. It also reduces your risk of quadriceps muscle injuries.

Steps:

  1. Start by standing on one leg while bending your right knee. If you need support, hold onto a chair or a wall.
  2. Bring your heel towards your buttock while your left hand is reaching your ankle.
  3. With both knees kept next to each other, pull in your abdominal muscles while standing up straight.
  4. Keep your shoulders relaxed and feel the stretch along your hip and front of your thigh.
  5. Take a deep breath and hold on this position for 30 seconds.
  6. Release and do the same steps on the other side.

Hamstrings

Stretching your hamstrings will give your muscles mobility and flexibility. It also helps in lowering the risk of injury, muscle tears and strains.

Steps:

  1. Start in a standing position with both of your feet several inches apart.
  2. Lift your left toe and slightly bend your right knee.
  3. Gently pull your abdomen inwards.
  4. Lean forward from your hips while both of your palms are rested on top of your right thigh for support and balance.
  5. Your shoulder should be kept relaxed as you feel the stretch spreading through the back of your leg.
  6. Do the same steps on the opposite side.

Forearm

Many of us are guilty of taking our forearm for granted. Performing regular forearm stretching does not only improve the function and mobility of your forearm. It also prevents stiffness and pain especially if you’re doing a lot of repetitive tasks using your hands.

Steps:

  1. Extend one of your arms forward. It should be kept at the same height as your shoulder.
  2. Point your fingers upward to flex your wrist with palm facing forward.
  3. With the use of your other hand, pull your upturned fingers gently towards you. Don’t stop until you can feel the stretch in your lower forearm.
  4. Take a deep breath and stay in this position for 30 seconds.
  5. To stretch the top of your forearm, do the same steps but this time your fingers are flexed downward.

Shoulder

We should never underestimate the power of shoulder stretches. Having shoulders that are flexible plays a huge part in your overall strength.

Steps:

  1. Start in a standing position, with both feet apart for a few inches.
  2. Slowly bring both of your arms upward until it reaches up over your head.
  3. Stay in this position for 30 seconds.
  4. Do up to 4 repetitions.

Neck

Neck stretches strengthen your neck muscles and also relieves the pressure and tightness around this area.

Steps:

  1. Start on a seating position and relax your shoulders.
  2. Bring your ear downwards toward your left shoulder while keeping your neck as relaxed as possible.
  3. Stay on this position for 30 seconds and feel the stretch on your opposite side.
  4. Release and do the same steps on the opposite side.

Iliotibial Band

Iliotibial Bands are tendon sheaths that are responsible for keeping your knees and hips connected.

Steps:

  1. Start in a standing position, with one hand getting support from a chair, wall or countertop.
  2. Make your left leg crossed over the right leg at the ankle.
  3. Keep your left leg in front and touch the floor with only the edge of your left foot.
  4. Bring your left arm over your head while reaching towards your right side.
  5. Stay on this position for 30 seconds while taking deep breaths.
  6. Do the same steps on the opposite side.

Knee

Our knees are one of the most injured areas of our body. By doing some stretches before we perform physical activity, we reduce the risk of knee related injuries.

Steps:

  1. Start in a standing position, with hand on a chair or countertop for support.
  2. Grasp your ankle with one hand to bend your knee back.
  3. Keep your knee bent back as far as you can.
  4. Stay in this position for 30 seconds.
  5. Slowly return to the original position.
  6. Do 5 repetition for each leg.

Calf

Calves play a huge role in the movement of your leg. Doing regular stretches help improve leg movement and lowers the risk of pain and injury.

Steps:

  1. Start on a seating position and extend both of your legs.
  2. Loop a resistance band around of your feet with your hands holding both sides.
  3. Pull your shoes gently towards your chin until you feel a stretch in your calf.
  4. Repeat the same steps on the other side.

By doing proper stretching before and after your workout sessions, you are preparing your body to the rigorous activity as well as giving it the proper opportunity to cool down after the extensive training.

So before you reach out for that weights and start lifting like a monster, take a few minutes to stretch first. These little exercises will not only maximize the effect of each workout sessions but it also reduces your risk of muscle pain and injury.

REFERENCES:

Nick Nilsson. (2019). How Stretching Can Explode Your Muscle Growth. Retrieved from https://stretchcoach.com/articles/stretching-for-muscle-growth/

Jonas J. Gopez. (2017). Stretching for Back Pain Relief. Retrieved from https://www.spine-health.com/wellness/exercise/stretching-back-pain-relief

Amy Marturana. (2017). 12 Hip Stretches Your Body Really Needs. Retrieved from https://www.self.com/gallery/hip-stretches-your-body-really-needs-slideshow

Laura Inverarity. (2018). 3 Easy Stretches for Your Calves. Retrieved from https://www.verywellfit.com/calf-muscle-stretches-2696337