Let’s face it, nobody enjoys stretching! However a big chunk of the population can benefit from it. Increased circulation, increase joint range of motion and increase in flexibility are just a handful of benefits to stretching. I’m not going to mandate that you do hours each week however by performing these stretches after your workout and/or at the end of the day will help to make your flexibility gains permanent.
Here they are in no particular order:
1. Rear Foot Elevated Hip Flexor Stretch: 40s/side
Set up with your left knee down on a towel or on a soft surface. Prop your left leg onto a bench or an elevated surface approximately knee height. With the chest up and out, gently brace the core and tense the glute of the stretched leg (back leg) to drive your hips forward. Push to the point where you get a mild stretch in the front of your quad/hip flexor. If you struggle to get your back leg up because you are too tight, place your back leg onto a lower bench or step to decrease the intensity of the stretch.
2. Glute/Piriformis Stretch on Floor: 40s/side
Set up on the floor with one leg in front of you and one leg trailing behind. Your front leg should be bent so it is approximately perpendicular to your body. Extend the opposite leg back on the floor so knee is facing toward the floor. Place hands on the floor in front and slowly ease down toward the floor with support of your arms. Keep chest up as you move into the stretch.
3. Kneeling Rock Back Stretch: 40s
Set-up in an all fours position with hands underneath the shoulders and knees underneath the hips. Keep your chest up and you should have a slight arch in your lower back. Slowly push the hips backwards towards the heels making sure you keep the slight arch in your lower back. Hold the stretch at the point you start to lose the arch.
4. Band Hamstring: 40s
Engage your core; don’t let pelvis rotate away from a neutral alignment. Lift your leg high enough so that you feel a stretch in the hamstring. Make sure to keep legs straight without any flexion at the knee joint.
5. Rocking Ankle Mob: 40s/side
Start in a pike position with your hips higher than the rest of the body. Place the left foot behind the right ankle. With your right leg straight, press the heel of the right foot down until you get a mild stretch. To put more emphasis on the soleus try bending the stretched leg versus keeping it straight.
6. Door Way Pec Stretch: 40s/side
Stand at end of wall or in doorway facing perpendicular to the wall. Place inside of bent arm on surface of wall. Position bent elbow shoulder height. Turn your body away from positioned arm and look in the opposite direction. Hold stretch for 5-15 deep, slow diaphragmatic (belly) breaths.
7. Lat Stretch: 40s/side
Grab rack or another stable surface. Engage your core to prevent your lower back from arching, sit back into hips as you grab hold of the rack. You should feel a stretch in the lat, starting at the armpit and running down the side of the rib cage.
8. Elbow Flexors Stretch: 40s/side
Engage core to prevent lower back from arching. Make a double chin and bring arm out in front of you. Straighten the elbow and extend the hand fully. Use the opposite hand to increase the stretch. You should feel the stretch along the front of the wrist/forearm/elbow.