In order to protect your body from injury, release muscle tension and make your movements smooth and fluid, you need flexibility. By being flexible, you also allow your body to go on a full range of motion. To keep your body supple, you do stretching exercises. Stretches will not only improve your performance and reduce your risk of injury, it also allows you to experience other benefits that include, among others, increased blood circulation to the tissues, enhanced coordination and reduced muscle soreness, back pain and even stress.
Discussed below are some stretches for the upper and lower body. Make sure that you warm up before doing these exercises. Don’t hold your breath but breathe into the stretch. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds and any pain you feel at the outset should diminish by the time you’re holding the stretch. However, if you feel the pain growing instead of going away, stop the exercise immediately. Make sure to shake your limbs before doing another flexibility exercise.
Upper Body Flexibility Exercises
Flexibility exercises for the upper body stretch the arms, shoulders and chest. The first stretch involves flexing your arms across your chest. Begin by putting your left arm straight across chest. To pull your arms toward your chest, place your right hand on your left elbow and pull. Do the same routine for your right arm with your left arm pulling your elbow. The next flexibility exercise stretches the muscles of your shoulder and chest. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Put your arms behind your back and clasp your palms together. Raise your hands as high as you can, feeling the stretch as you do so. Then bend forward from the waist and hold before going back to the original position. Finally, to stretch your triceps, put your left hand behind your back with your elbow in the air. Using your right hand, slowly pull the left elbow towards head. Hold so you can feel the stretch before repeating with your right hand.
Lower Body Flexibility Exercises
Stretches that involve the lower body work the quadriceps, glutes and the hamstrings. To work your quadriceps, stand on your left leg. Using your left hand, grab your left leg from behind at the point just above ankle. Keep your thigh perpendicular to the ground as you pull the heel into buttocks and push the hips out. Feel the stretch. Do the same with your right leg. The next exercise stretches your glutes. Begin by sitting on floor. Bend your right leg and your left leg straight. Position your right foot over your left leg while at the same time placing your left arm over right leg. Use your elbow to push your right knee. Hold before doing the exercise with the other leg. Finally, to stretch your hamstrings, do single leg hamstring stretches. Begin by putting your left leg out. Your right leg should be bent and positioned in such a way that your foot is kept flat into your thigh. While keeping your back flat, slowly bend forward from the waist as lows you can. Feel the stretch before doing the same routine with your other leg.