Tight joints and limited flexibility can play havoc with your workouts. They can make you more susceptible to injury and limit the range of motion you have as you train. Stretching should make up part of every training session, to keep your muscles and joints supple.
Here are some key stretches to warm up your joints and keep them loose and flexible:
One of the most straightforward yoga poses, cow face pose is a stretch for your neck and shoulders.
Begin by lifting your right arm up and then bend the elbow, allowing your hand to fall behind your head.
Move your left arm up behind your back and then bend the arm, so the two hands can just about touch or reach together. Swap sides after a 20-30 second hold.
An easy stretch you can try anywhere to keep your calves mobile and flexible.
Begin by standing relatively close to the wall, less than an arm’s length. Step your right leg forward and your left leg back with your feet parallel.
Bend your left knee and press down through your right heel. Hold for 20-30 seconds then swap.
Another yoga pose which gives your hips and hip flexors a chance to fully open and flex. Happy Baby may feel a little strange to begin with but the benefits in flexibility and loosening of stiff joints make it worthwhile.
Begin by lying flat on your back. Bend both of your keens and hold the outer edge of your fully flexed feet with your hands, keeping your arms on the outside of your legs.
Use your upper body strength to push your knees towards the floor and keep relaxed. Hold the pose for up to 30 seconds.
A deep and intense way of giving your hamstrings a good stretch, standing hamstring stretches can easily be performed almost anywhere. All you need is a bench or a chair or a hard raised surface.
Begin by propping up your right heel on a raised surface, lower than your hip such as those already mentioned. Flex your foot once positioned on the surface and to make the stretch even more challenge bend forward towards your foot.
Hold for 30 seconds and then switch legs.
The perfect way to warm up your spine and loosen tension in the lower back. Start by positioning yourself on your hands and knees on the floor. Keep your knees under your hips and your wrists under your shoulders. Keep your spine neutral, back flat and core engaged.
Next, inhale and arch your back high, lifting your head and the bottom of your spine. Then, as you exhale, round your spine further up towards the ceiling, tucking in your glutes and your chin towards your chest.
As you move from position one to position two your spine will get the full stretch it needs.
I love the names of these. I just had to try 'Happy baby'. It's great! What a relaxing move, particularly as I've just got back from the gym and need a good stretch.
although the pictures are all of girls, I use quite a few of these - the wall stretch is particularly good for tight calves on 'the day after'.