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Stretching Exercises to Improve Flexibility

Stretching Exercises to Improve Flexibility
Amy Golby
Writer and expert3 years ago
View Amy Golby's profile

It’s easy to overlook stretching but it should be a vital part of your training program. Stretching helps to keep our muscles flexible, and by maintaining or increasing that flexibility it allows us to have an optimal range of motion in the joints, and can also improve your posture, reduce stress and body aches, and more.

Neglecting stretching and mobility work can leave muscles becoming short and tight. Which can leave you open to high risk of injury or inability to perform certain movements. Try adding these stretches into your weekly program to help improve flexibility and prevent injury. 


1. Wide-legged fold

Start by standing with your feet wider than shoulders. Hinge at hips to lowering your chest down in front of your thighs, allowing the head to relax and shift the weight toward balls of feet. Hold for 10-20 seconds, then return to standing. 


2. Figure Four

Lay down flat on your back, bending your knees to 90 degrees, so your feet are off the floor. Start by hooking your right ankle over the left thigh (just above the knee) and interlock your hands over around the back of your left thigh. Take a breath and as you exhale pull the left knee towards your chest, feeling left hip and glutes opening. Hold for a few 10-20, and release before repeating on the other side. 


3. Wide Squat with a twist

Start by standing with your feet wider than shoulders and lower yourself into a sumo squat position by bending the legs until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Place your hands on your knees and push through your right hand to dropping your right shoulder forward and down, while rotating your chest to face your left knee. Hold for a 10-20 secs, then reverse the movement and repeat on the other side for 5-10 times. 


4. Kneeling Hip Flexor 

Kneeling on the floor, place one foot forward into a low lunge. Making sure the knees are bent in a 90-degree angle. You can place your hands on the floor for support if you need, start the stretch by leaning forward slowly driving the front knee over the foot until you feel a stretch in the groin of the back leg. Move back and forth 5-10 times or hold at the point of stretch for up to 30 secs and then switch legs.


5. Interlaced Forward Fold 

Start by standing with your feet hip-distance apart and hands interlock your hands behind your back, keeping your arms straight. Lift your hands up towards the ceiling, keeping your arms straight but allowing your body to, hinge at hips to lowering your chest down toward your legs and stretch arms overhead. Relax your head down and shift your weight towards balls of feet. Hold for a 10-20 secs, then release and return to standing slowly before repeating 3-5 times.  


6. Standing Tricep Stretch

 Stand upright with you feet shoulder-width apart. Lift your left arm and extend it straight overhead. Start the movement by bending the elbow until your hand is behind your head between the shoulder. Keeping your shoulder blades pulled together, use your other arm to gently push the elbow of the arm being stretched down and back. Hold for 10-20 secs, before repeating on the other arm. Repeat 3-5 times on each arm.


7. Twist Arm and shoulder stretch

Stand upright with you feet shoulder-width apart. Bring your arms up to chest height with your hands out in front, cross your arms over each other, and interlock your hands, and drop your shoulders down while reaching forward with your interlocked hands. Hold for 5-10 seconds before, unwinding your arms, and then switch arms, repeat on each side 3-5 times. 


8. Wide straddle with forwarding fold

Start by sitting on the floor stretching your legs out to the side as wide as possible and keeping them straight. Pull your shoulders back and down keeping your spine straight, slowly walking your hands forward along the floor in front of you lowering yourself to place your forearms on the floor. Lower and bow your head with a deep breathe. Hold for 10-20 secs, before walking your hands back in to return to start. Repeat 3-5 times. 


9. Cat-Cow

Start on the floor on all fours, placing your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees bent under your hips. Taking a large breath arch your spine down towards the floor, so your belly sinks and your head and tail boil lift upwards. Slowly exhale, reversing the movement by arching your back towards the ceiling, tucking your head and tail bone underneath you. Hold each movement for 3-5 secs before reversing and repeat 5-10 times.

10. Y and T Superman stretch 

Start by lying facedown on the floor with your legs straight out and arms in Y formation with your facing down. Taking a deep breath pull your shoulders back and down, lifting your chest, arms, and legs up as high as comfortable off the floor, hold for 5 secs, then lower back down with control before moving your arms out wide to form a T shape and repeat. Alternate between the Y/T movements from 5-10 times. 


Amy Golby
Writer and expert
View Amy Golby's profile