Sore back or tight hamstrings? Try to do some of these simple stretches each day and you would be surprised at the benefits you’ll soon be reaping.
Being flexible is important as it can improve your performance in physical activities, decrease your risk of everyday injury and lower back pain, as well as improve your posture and balance.
Flexibility helps your joints and muscles to achieve their full range of motion and work most effectively – thereby improving your performance in both athletic and functional activities like swinging a tennis racket or even simply bending over when carrying out daily tasks.
Stretching can also be a great way to get you moving in the morning or a way to relax after a long day.
Here are some simple stretches everyone can do to help their bodies:
Hip Flexor/Quad Stretch
Kneel on the floor and lunge one leg forward. The forward leg is bent 90 degrees in front of you, while the other leg is bent underneath you. Place both hands on top of the front knee and slowly lean forward into a stretch, keeping your torso upright. Hold for 30 seconds before releasing. This stretches the hip flexors, quads, and hamstrings.
Sit on the floor with your back upright and place the soles of your feet such that they face inward to each other, with your knees bent out to the sides. Engage your abs and steadily lower your body towards your feet, taking care to keep your back straight.
If this pose is uncomfortable, allow your knees to rise up slightly, before slowly working them down to be as close to the ground as possible. This butterfly stretch trains the neck, back, and gluteus muscles, as well the hamstrings and thighs.
Downward dog / Calf stretch
From a plank position, raise your hips high and press your feet against the ground, turning your body into an inverted “V”. Try to keep your back and legs as straight as possible when carrying out this stretch.
Alternate the bending of your knees to give yourself a deeper stretch on each side. Feel free to play around with the angle that your foot is pressing against the ground, to give your calves a stronger workout.
Knee to Chest
Lie flat on your back with your toes pointed upwards. Slowly, bend one knee and pull your leg up towards your chest. Wrap your arms around your thigh and gently pull the knee towards your chest. Hold your position before extending your leg back out slowly, repeating this on both legs. Use this stretch to align your pelvis as well as stretch your lower back and rear end muscles.
Lying Knee Twist
Lie on your back with your legs extended straight out. Cross one knee over to the opposite side of your body. Hold the position. You should be able to feel a gentle stretch through the back and buttocks muscles. Tighten your core and rotate back to a neutral position, before repeating the move on the other side. This movement stretches the paraspinal muscles and strengthens the abdominal muscles.
While beneficial, these stretches should still be approached with caution. If you’re suffering from a chronic injury or strained muscles, stretching might cause further harm rather than good.