Stretching exercises bring many benefits to the human body. Find out what are the positive effects of stretching and see some great examples of them.
Flexibility exercises have a positive effect on the condition of muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments, and connective tissue.
These beneficial changes obtained under the influence of stretching occur due to the improvement of muscle flexibility, muscle strength, muscle contraction speed, and the blood supply to the muscles.
What is stretching?
Stretching is a set of physical exercises that extend the muscles and increase the flexibility of them.
Some of the technique consists of contracting (isometric contraction) of individual muscles for several seconds, then relaxing and stretching them. The individual stages of flexibility exercises are accompanied by even breathing.
What are the benefits of flexibility exercises?
There are many advantages of stretching, including:
- lowering the risk of injuries,
- better training effects,
- reducing fatigue and quick regeneration,
- muscle relaxation after exercise,
- improving physical fitness in everyday life,
- mental relaxation.
The above effects are achieved thanks to the fact that stretching exercises can:
- improve the precision of movement, coordination and develop „muscular feeling”,
- increase the range of motion in the joints,
- prevent muscle contractures,
- reduce muscle sensitivity to pain associated with work during exercise,
- even reduce ailments related to menstruation in women.
So remember to always stretch your muscles, especially those that have been exercising during the workout, after each training session.
However, consult your physician before starting any exercise to find out if you have any contraindications to exercise.
What are the great examples of flexibility exercises?
Great chest and shoulder stretching
To stretch your chest and front of your shoulders grab your hands behind you, and extend your elbows.
Remember about the correct posture. The neck should be retracted (bring your chin to your neck) and abdominal muscles should be contracted. Hold the position for around 30 seconds.
The next exercise is great to relax your neck and shoulder muscles.
Circulate backward your shoulders.
It not only relaxes the muscles but also relaxes the mind. So whenever you are stressed, you should do this exercise to let yourself relax mentally and physically.
Stretching of the arms and back muscles
To stretch the back of your arms (triceps), grab the elbow and gently pull it backward. Later change the hand and to the same exercise.
If you want to stretch your biceps, extend your elbow and gently pull your fingers down. Do the same exercise on the other hand.
Be very careful with the wrist. The stretching should be felt in the biceps, not in the wrist. So pay attention to the correct execution of this exercise.
You can stretch your back at the same time.
Hold your arms forward and lean your back.
Great leg stretching
Why is it worth doing flexibility exercises of your legs?
Great flexibility exercises of the legs will allow you to bring relief to your muscles and prevent soreness after training.
Stretching of the inner parts of the thigh
If you want to stretch the inner part of your leg (adductors muscles), you can bring your feet together and gently push the knees down with your elbows. The leg stretching should be clearly felt on the inner thighs.
Here is another exercise to stretch this part of the thigh.
Leave one leg straight (the one you want to stretch), and bent the other leg. Gently move the torso forward.
The idea of this exercise is to have your abdominal muscles contracted and to move your torso (navel) forward, NOT your head.
Gently move forward and feel the stretch on the inner sides of the thigh. Change the legs position and exercise to the other thigh.
A common mistake is that people move their heads, which puts stress on the spine.
It doesn’t matter how far forward you move. It is important that you can feel the muscles stretch.
Therefore, contract belly muscles and move the navel forward as far as you can.
What are other common mistakes?
Remember that the muscle needs to get used to training. So you may not move much at first, but you will be able to move a little further in time.
So there is no point in pushing yourself forward immediately and then putting stress on joints or even hurting your muscles. You have to do everything according to your own body and abilities, nothing by force, and pushing yourself beyond limits.
It is important to keep the glute of the stretched leg in place. Do not lean. Have a straight back. With time you will be able to move more and put your elbows on the ground, or even head, and hands. But it doesn’t matter in the beginning.
During the flexibility exercises, you should feel slight to moderate discomfort, but you should not feel pain. So you can control how far you move and what you feel.
Remember, do not force anything, it is better to do the exercises gently, according to your own abilities. If you do your best to listen to your own body, then your body will reward you and you will achieve what you want.
If you push too much during flexibility exercise, hoping that you will allow you to achieve results faster, the effect may be quite the opposite. It is better to do everything according to your own body so that you get benefits and muscle relief, not suffering from it.
Stretching of the back muscles of your leg
To stretch the lower thigh muscles move your torso (navel) to the front of the thigh. To help yourself, you can pull your toes together. You can feel the muscles stretch on the backside of your legs.
In the beginning, these muscles tighten a little, but after some time (after around 30 seconds), the tension is released and the muscles relax.
That is why it is important to perform this stretch for a long time because at the end of this time the muscles will stretch.
Do the same stretch with the other leg. Remember to contract your belly muscles.
If the abdomen is relaxed, you put stress on the spine joints. If the abdomen is contracted, then the muscles work and the spine is stabilized and protected by the abdominal muscles.
Stretching the front muscles of your leg, hips, and glutes
To stretch the front part of your thigh lie down on the stomach and bend the knee. Gently pull the heel towards the glute until it stops and holds it for around 30 seconds. You should feel the stretch in the front of the thigh.
Perform the same exercise on the other leg.
To support your neck, put your head on your arm.
To stretch the lateral muscle of your leg (abductors muscles) bend one leg and extend the other. Twist your body towards the bent leg. Gently push the forearm to the one side and keep rotating the torso to the opposite side.
In this exercise, you also stretch the back muscles.
Change the position of the leg and do the same exercise to another side.
How to make your hips more flexible?
To stretch your hip muscles start from a four-point position and put one foot next to your hands gently move your body forward.
Remember to protect your knee. If you feel discomfort in the knee joint, put something soft under it. You should only stretch your thigh muscles without putting stress on your joints.
You should rest your body weight at the beginning of your thigh of one leg and the feet of the other leg. Do NOT put your body weight directly on your patella (the middle of your knee).
To stretch your glutes muscles lie on your back. Put one leg on the other’s leg knee and gently pull the thigh towards you.
You should feel the stretching in the glute of the crosswise bent leg. If you don’t feel it gently move your thigh forward until you feel the stretching in your glute.
Change leg position and do the exercise to another glute.
If you feel pain in the lower back, this exercise is not performed correctly. So try adjusting your alignment or do other versions of glute stretching exercises.