Stretching is one of the keys to a balanced fitness regime. Regular stretching exercises helps in maintaining a flexible and supple body.
The benefits of flexibility include prevention of injuries and increased range of movements during the fitness regime, easier and less tiring daily activities because as we know supple muscles use less energy, increased blood flow to the muscles, improved performance, agile body, release of tension, and improved coördination. Stretching can help realign the body and keep up good posture which otherwise can cause repetitive stain in the back and legs.
Here’s a basic guide to a stretching routine that will help you stay fit every day. Remember to stretch only as far as is comfortable. If you experience pain with any technique, drop it until you discuss it with your instructor or doctor.
Always warm up and then gently, patiently stretch your muscles. A good walk is perfect before doing your stretching routine. Do not stiffen your limbs, the moment you feel uncomfortable in holding a position, remember it is time to stop.
1. Shoulder Shrugs
Sit straight, keep your shoulders relaxed. Inhale and squeeze your shoulders up toward your ears. Hold them tight till the count of ten and relax as you exhale. Repeat ten times to start.
Roll Your Shoulder
Rotate your shoulders forwards and then reverse direction. Do five rotations each side.
Neck Stretch (Do not attempt if you suffer from Cervical Spondylosis)
Sit straight, exhale and let your neck drop forward. Relax for about 2 seconds, now inhale as you lift your head, exhale and let your head drop to one side, relax, and inhale as you return to center. Repeat to the other side. Do the whole sequence 5 to 10 times.
Stretch Your Spine
Sit straight with your hands clasped behind your head, exhale and turn slowly to the right. Look behind you, twisting as far as comfortable without straining the neck. Hold for the count of five, and inhale as you return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side. Do this stretching exercise 10-20 times, 3 times a day.
Lie on your back with your knees bent; keep your feet flat on the floor. Keep both shoulders completely relaxed and flat against the floor. Slowly let your knees drop to one side only as far as they will go comfortably. Relax there to the count of five and then bring them up again. Repeat on the other side. Do this up to five times on each side.
Use a hand or pillow to support the back of your head if your neck is uncomfortable against the floor.
Holding onto a table or back of a chair, grasp your foot or ankle. Let your knee dangle straight down. Move your thigh backward, then return, repeating on both sides up to 20 times.
Sit in a chair and hold the seat with your hands, lift one leg as if you were taking a step. Keep the back straight and do not lean forward as you lift the leg. Keep your abdomen pulled in for support. Repeat 10 times then do sequence with your other leg. This simple stretch will build hip strength as well as flexibility.
(You can do this by sitting on the floor also with legs straight in the front. Take support of the floor with hands flat on the floor)
Stand upright; keep your leg straight and your foot resting on a low stool in front of you. Exhale, and slowly lean into your straight leg until you feel a comfortable stretch. Hold for 10-30 seconds and return to start. Repeat on both sides, at least 10 times.
Stand facing a wall with your toes almost touching it. Lean forward into your hands placed at shoulder height against the wall. Move one leg back only as far as it stays flat on the floor. You should feel a comfortable stretch in your calf muscle when you lean into the stretch. Your toes should point forward. Repeat on both sides, holding for 10-30 seconds.
Kneel on floor or mat with hips straight. Place hands on the back of hips keeping your palms against your lower back and your fingers pointing down towards the floor. Lean your torso back by arching back. Hold the stretch for a few minutes. Repeat 5 times.
Pelvic stretching exercises that you can practice to reduce intensity of menstrual pain.
1. Lie straight on your back and slowly bend your knees and clasp them. Now, slowly without raising your head and chest, try to bring the knees up to your chest. Hold it in this position for a few seconds and then slowly go back to the original position. You can try it with one leg alternatively also.
2. Lie flat on your back and slowly raise both legs up into the air, perpendicular to the floor and hold this position for few seconds. Be careful, while going back to the original position. Go very slowly and if it is not comfortable, first bend your legs and then lower them slowly.
So stretch out, ease that tension, tone up and stay fit for life.