Many people who participate in aerobic activities do so to improve their cardiovascular endurance, and to burn calories. Unfortunately, flexibility training is one element of the fitness routine that’s often neglected, despite its important contributions to overall function, health and performance.
“As with other components of physical fitness, flexibility improves with regular training,” says Cedric X. Bryant, PhD, FACSM, the Chief Science Officer at the American Council on Exercise.
Here are some stretches that are easy to implement from anywhere, and that target the muscles that need lengthening throughout the day:
Side Neck Stretch
Benefit: Helps relieve tension in the muscles of the neck and jaw.
How to Perform: Slowly tilt your left ear toward your shoulder. Place the top of your right hand on the lower part of your back, and roll your shoulder down and away from your ear. Place your left hand with slight pressure on the top of your head. Slightly lift your chin and keep your jaw open. Hold for five deep breaths, release and repeat on the opposite side.
Seated Figure Four Stretch
Benefit: Helps relieve tension in the muscles of the hips and buttocks.
How to Perform: Sit upright with a neutral spine. Cross your right leg over your left, and rest your hands on your shins. For a deep stretch, lean your torso slightly forward, hold for five deep breaths, release and repeat on your left leg.
Seated Lateral Stretch
Benefit: Helps relieve tension in the muscles of the upper and mid-back region.
How to Perform: Sit upright with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Keep your spine neutral and place hands interlocked behind your head. Hold, and allow your chest to open for three deep breaths while your elbows open to the side. Exhale, and laterally flex the spine on your left side (imagine the left side of your rib cage moves closer to your hip bone). Hold for five deep breaths, return to your center and repeat on the opposite side.
Downward Facing Dog with Chair
Benefit: Helps relieve tension in the muscle of the chest and back of the legs.
How to Perform: Stand upright and walk your feet slightly in front of your hips. Hinge at your hips and place your hands on your chair or door handle. Push your hips back as you bring your check parallel to the floor. Hold for five deep breaths.
Seated Spinal Twist
Benefit: Helps relieve tension in the spinal exterior muscles to contribute to improved posture and reduced back pain.
How to Perform: Sit upright with feet flat on the floor. Cross your right leg over your left (if this is too deep, keep your feet on the floor). Inhale, lift your arms over your head and exhale. Rotate to your right, and place your hands on the outside of your chair or thigh. Hold for five deep breaths. Inhale, rotate to your center, switch your crossed legs and exhale, them complete the stretch on your left.
To discover more stretches and read more from “Stretching – An Integral Part of Your Fitness Routine,” an article from Your Weight Matters Magazine, CLICK HERE.