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Exercise 101: stretching

Exercise 101: stretching

The jury is still out as to how effective stretching is at preventing injury or improving performance, but we say as it feels good, helps flexibility and does no harm it can only be a good thing.

What is it?

Stretching is a gentle way to warm up your muscles. The idea is that if you do it before exercise then you are less likely to cause any injury to yourself, and if you stretch after exercise then it’s thought you are less likely to seize up, and that you’ll also have better recovery.

Who can do it?

Stretching ranges from super-easy to super-tricky, so there’s something for everyone. It might be something as simple as trying to reach for your toes, or circling your arms – or it may be a professional yoga pose such as the scorpion pose (look it up!)

How do I do it?

It’s really as simple as identifying the areas that need stretching, and then by just using your own body, gently stretching those muscles. You can use a mat or something to push against for deeper stretches.

Some examples

Here are some simple beginner stretches to loosen up and get you in the mood for something a bit more advanced.

Cross body arm stretch

Take your right arm across the front of your body as if you are reaching for something just past your left shoulder. With your left hand gently push the upper right arm in towards your body, you’ll feel a nice stretch through your shoulder. Repeat on other arm.

Standing thigh stretch

Bring your left foot up to your left buttock and grab hold of your ankle with your left hand. Get your balanced and then raise your right arm up to the sky. Hold this pose for five seconds and then swap sides.

the author

Laura Briggs

Laura is a fitness writer who loves running ultra marathons. In addition to training for her epic runs she finds time for strength training, Pilates and Yoga. .