Need to Get Stretched Out Before Your Training? Limber Up With These Stretches.
You may think that professional athletes or people who exercise frequently are the only ones who benefit from stretching, but that is simply not the case. In fact, stretching should happen on a regular basis, meaning daily, in order to increase mobility and flexibility. Here’s the thing, you damage your muscles performing high-intensity exercises since they are called on suddenly to perform an activity that they aren’t ready for. These injured muscles you get from lack of flexibility result in joint pain and make it even harder for you to move. Flexibility is even more important as we age since humans lose water content in their tendons causing them to get tighter over time. Unique Fitness noted that maintaining flexibility decreases chronic pain, improves posture, and improves your ability to perform daily activities, making it the perfect ingredient to pair with fit20 since strength training has similar aims with stretching. Clients that come get ready for a private session with us notice the difference in their training when they perform basic stretches. To help members, potential members, and strength training fanatics, we wanted to give you friendly advice on stretches that pair well with a full body exercise. We kept it simple, focusing on exercises that can be done by anyone and are not too strenuous.
Seated Hamstring Stretch
Credit: Summit Orthopedic
What we like about these is that you can do them on the floor, or if you struggle with getting on the floor, you can use a chair. To stretch your hamstrings while seated, follow these steps:
1. Sit on a chair of any kind, straighten one leg and place your heel on the floor.
3. Hold for 30 seconds and perform 3 sets on each leg.
Why This Stretch?
With many people suffering from lower back pain, stretching your hamstrings will take pressure off of your back. Many people also experience sciatica as they age and their muscles tighten which only intensifies the need to keep your hamstrings loose. When doing any form of strength training, your back, and your legs are your biggest muscles and both need healthy hamstrings to perform the proper movements. If you are looking to try other hamstring stretches look here.
Another stretch that helps alleviate the pains that come with sciatica and back pain is the knee-to-chest stretch. This very simple movement helps relax your thighs and glutes and is simple enough that you can do it in bed when you wake up in the morning as well. Follow these steps for a successful lower back stretch:
- Lie on your back with both knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
- Keep your right knee bent or extend it straight out along the floor.
- Draw your left knee into your chest, with your hands behind your thigh or at the top of your shinbone.
- Lengthen your spine all the way down to your tailbone, and avoid lifting your hips.
- Breathe deeply, releasing any tension.
Hold these poses for 30 seconds and alternate for three sets on each leg. The important part of this exercise is taking deep breaths to help release tension from not only your back but your glutes and hamstrings as well. If you can’t reach your legs, use a towel to wrap around the back of your knee to assist with pulling your knee toward your chest. If you are wanting a full back stretch experience, pull both legs toward your chest and hold.
Standing Trapezius Stretch
To help prepare you for an upper body workout, especially when performing chest presses or lat pulldowns, stretching out your trapezius muscles (the triangular muscles extending down the middle of your back and over your shoulders) is very important to make sure that you don’t pinch muscles in your neck. Follow these steps to avoid injuries when performing upper body exercises:
- Standing with your feet hip-distance apart, reach both arms in front of you and interlock your fingers.
- Turn your palms away from your body and push outwards, feeling the stretch in your arms and the upper part of your back.
- Keep your knees soft, your abdominals tight and your toes pointing forward throughout the stretch.
Why This Stretch?
When clients come in and try a high-resistance workout like fit20, the first two machines that you try are the chest press and the lat pulldown, making this stretch very important. The importance lies in the fact that when people compensate to finish a rep, the shoulders begin to shrug which could cause some discomfort in the neck, shoulders, and back if not stretched properly. This is an easy one too since it is a standing stretch. So make sure to get this one done.
Wrist Flexors and Extensors Stretch
Credit: Medical News Today
Another simple stretch to add before you begin your training session is a good wrist flexor and extensor stretch. As mentioned earlier on upper body exercises like the chest press and lat pulldown, not only are you using your back and shoulder muscles, but you are also using your forearms to push and pull the weight. If these go unstretched, they may feel really tight during the exercise causing a bit of pain in the wrist. Here are the steps to follow when performing a wrist flexor/extensor stretch:
- Extend one arm straight out in front of you, fingers pointing down. With your other hand, press against the palm so you feel the stretch in the forearm and wrist flexors.
- Hold here for 30 seconds.
- Then, flip the fingers to face upward and use your opposite hand to gently apply pressure to the fingers and palm.
- Hold for 30 seconds. Then switch hands.
As a personal trainer, I have seen that when clients are pushing and pulling weights that they are not used to, especially in a program that demands a lot in a short time like fit20, their wrist and forearm muscles are handling a lot in their first two exercises, making this type of stretch a must-do.
It is always recommended that you stretch before any type of exercise. In a high-intensity slow-motion workout, your body is activating all of its muscles making stretching an important part of your experience. We understand that it is hard to fit in a good stretch before a session because life gets hectic, but all of these exercises can be done on your bed or right next to it when you wake up in the morning. All together these stretches would only take up 10-15 minutes of your time and give you a more comfortable experience with any exercise that you will be doing during the day. A program like fit20 is safe for those who don’t have time to stretch since it is slow motion and low impact; however, a good stretch will only enhance your exercise if you have the time to do it.