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Stretching your muscles before and after a workout is an extremely important task to improve fitness and prevent injuries. Stretching before your workout will help you to prevent injuries, increase flexibility, and give you a general feeling of looseness. Most people don't know that it is very important to stretch out after your workout as well. Stretching out after your workout will help prevent soreness, and will signicantly contribute to improving your flexibility. The reason you will improve your flexibility by stretching after a workout more so than before is because your muscles are very loose and warmed up, which will allow for more range of motion.
When stretching, make sure to get your maximum range of motion slowly. When you get to this point you want to hold it for a few seconds then slowly move back to a resting position. There should be no jerking or quick movements.
Start your flexibility training from the standing position. I like to start by stretching out my kneck and my back. To stretch out your kneck, simply roll your head around in a circle. You should feel your kneck muscles stretching from this. To loosen up your back, put your hands on your hips and roll your torso in a circular motion. You should feel your lower back stretch out. The next stretch you can do from the standing position is a hamstring stretch. To do this, bend down reaching for your toes while keeping your legs straight, your feet together, and bending at the back. You will feel this pull on the back of your thigh. After your hamstring, you can stretch your hip flexor out. To execute the hip flexor stretch, move one leg forward bent at the knee while moving your other leg back behind your body keeping this knee straight. Your torso will be upright and your weight will be on your front leg. You should feel your hip flexor, which is on the front of your hip, stretching out on your back leg. You will need to repeat this stretch with your legs reversed.
The arms can also be effectively stretched out from the standing position. One good stretch is to pull one of your arms towards your chest with the other arm. One more good arm stretch is to start with your arms above your head and behind your kneck. Bend one arm at the elbow, and use your other arm to pull your elbow towards the shoulder of the arm doing the pulling. You will feel your tricep stretching out which is on the back of our upper arms.
For the next stretch, you may need a wall or something to balance yourself depending on how good your balance is. Use your hand to pull your foot up to your butt bending your leg at the knee. You will feel your quad stretching which is on the front part of your thigh. If you are having trouble balancing, use your free hand to balance. The last stretch I will suggest from the standing position stretches out the groin muscle. To stretch out the groin, move one leg out directly to the side of your body keeping the knee straight. You want to keep your feet facing forward, your torso leaning forward slightly, and your other leg underneath your torso. You then move your body in the opposite direction of your outstreched leg which will stretch out your groin muscle. You will have to repeat this with your legs in opposite positions.
You are now finished stretching from the standing position and can move to a sitting position. There are a few beneficial stretches from the sitting position and the first is another hamstring stretch. To do this, move your legs so they are straight in front of your body with your feet touching. From this position, you can then reach for your toes again. Another good stretch from the sitting position stretches out your upper back and your upper arms. To do this, have one leg straight in front of your body and the other leg bent at the knee overlapping your leg that is on the ground. On your leg that is bent at the knee, your foot will be by the opposite hip and your knee will be close to your chest. From this position, twist your torso so that the elbow that is on the same side as the flat leg is touching your knee by your chest. You then want to twist your torso further by pushing your elbow and upper arm against your knee that is by your chest. This will stretch out your upper back. Repeat this stretch with the opposite arm and leg positions. From this position, you can also stretch out your hip flexor by pulling your upright leg towards the opposite shoulder. The last stretch that I will suggest from the sitting position will stretch out your groin. To execute this stretch, pull your feet towards your groin bending them at the knees. The bottoms of your feet should be touching and your knees should in front of your but outside shoulder width. From this position, your can try to push your knees towards the ground by grabbing your feet with your hands, slightly leaning forward, and pushing down on your knees with your arms.
There are also a few stretches you can do from the laying positions, but these only repeat the muscles you have already streched. If you are interested though, you can stretch your hamstring by keeping your leg straight and pulling it as far towards your head as possible. Your quad can be stretched by bending your leg at the knee and pulling your leg against your chest. Lastly, your hip flexor can be stretched by leaving one leg flat on the ground and then crossing your other leg over your body towards your opposite hip.
This guide is a great way to help prevent injuries and improve flexibility. Remember that stretching should be done before and after every workout. Stretching on days that you are not otherwise exercising is also beneficial. You can cut down on existing soreness, and continue to improve flexibility by stretching out on days you are not working out.
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