Whether you’re striving to build muscle or lose weight (or a bit of both), it’s easy to focus on more energy-intensive workouts such as strength training or cardiovascular exercises to feel the burn.
But while flexibility might not be seen as the goal in every case, overlooking stretching and flexibility exercises can have detrimental effects on the body.
Not only does a quality flexibility workout help improve your general flexibility, but these exercises can also help you reduce tightness and tension throughout the body and enable you to complete your other workouts more safely and effectively.
This simple and effective flexibility workout is best completed at the end of the day to help your body recuperate and your mind relax. You can complete them as a full circuit or just pick your favorites to add to your regular routine.
Hold each position for 15-30 secs, and repeat 1-3 times to create a set. If you feel pain or discomfort, reduce the stretch to a level that causes some tension but not pain. The goal is to stretch, not injure!
Figure-Four Hip Stretch
- Lie flat on the floor on your back.
- Raise your right leg and cross the left foot over your left knee.
- Wrap your hands around your right thigh. After that, gently pull the left leg towards you.
- Keep your upper body relaxed as you hold the position for 15-30 seconds.
- Repeat on the other side.
If your body and hips are particularly tight, you might find a nice stretch even without lifting the second leg. Just do what feels good.
Inner Thigh Stretch
- Sit on the ground with a straight back and tall torso.
- Bring your feet together in front of you. The soles of the feet should touch (or as close to touching as you can get) with your knees bent to the sides.
- Grab hold of your feet in both hands.
- Gently pull forwards, keeping your back straight, until you feel a soft stretch in the lower thighs.
- Hold for 15-30 seconds.
- Lie down on your back bending your knees to your chest. Keep the soles of your feet on the floor.
- Slowly raise your right leg, keeping it as straight as possible.
- Reach out to hold the leg at the lowest point you can reach.
- Keep a flex in the foot as you gently pull your leg towards you.
- Hold for 15-30 secs, then repeat on the other side.
If your hamstrings are really tight or you find yourself shaking, a resistance band can be looped around the raised foot to help you get a little more leverage.
- Start on all-fours on a mat.
- Bring the left knee towards the chest, then rest it on the floor between your hands with the foot beneath your right armpit (or as close as you can get).
- Straighten your right leg out behind you, being careful to keep your hips in line.
- Hold for 15-30 seconds, then slowly unravel to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
Wall Calf Stretch
- Start by standing in front of a solid wall, bracing your hands against it.
- Step your right leg forward, keeping a slight bend in the knee.
- Straighten your left leg out behind to come into a lunge.
- Bend your right leg, focusing on maintaining tension through your arms and keeping the left heel on the floor.
- Hold for 15 secs, then switch to the other side.
Cross-Body Shoulder Stretch
- Begin in a standing position. The feet should be hip-width apart, with your arms by your sides.
- Extend one arm across your body at shoulder-height.
- Wrap the opposite arm around the extended one, gently pulling against it until you feel a pleasant stretch.
- Hold for 30 seconds, then release both arms and repeat on the other side.
- Start by lying on your belly on a mat. Extend your legs out behind you and your hands on the floor by your shoulders.
- Keep your elbows as still as possible as you push through your hands to raise your head and torso. Keep your core engaged.
- Hold the cobra pose for 15-30 seconds, then with control, lower back down.
It’s a great idea to complete a full-body stretching and flexibility routine daily, if possible. Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds before releasing and move with the breath to transform your flexibility workout into a moving meditation to get extra benefits.
So, whether you’re looking to participate in the latest TikTok flexibility challenge or simply want to improve your fitness, be sure to incorporate these flexibility exercises into your daily workouts.