We all know that exercising is important for a healthy lifestyle, so get out there and get moving! But before you get too far, remember to warm up your muscles by stretching. Flexibility exercises can help loosen up your body, helping you to feel better and more comfortable on a daily basis. You should stretch before all physical activity, even walking. So follow these simple steps to a more flexible body.
If you feel pain, stop immediately and consult your physician or therapist. Never bounce while stretching; make steady movements that help your muscles stretch naturally.
Leg stretch: Sit in a chair with your legs bent in front of you. Straighten your right leg as much as possible without locking your knee. Lengthen your spine then lean forward reaching your hands toward your feet. Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds, then rest and repeat with a flexed foot. Repeat the routine on your left side.
Chest Stretch: Begin by standing with your arms at your side and feet shoulder-width apart. Extend both arms behind your back and clasp your hands together, if possible. Stop when you feel a good stretch or sense discomfort. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds, then rest and repeat.
Quadriceps Stretch: Stand next to a sturdy chair or a counter with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Use the left hand to hold onto the chair or counter for balance. Slowly, bend your right knee back grabbing your right ankle with your right hand until your thigh is straight up and down. Do not lean forward or backward, but stand up straight. (If you can’t grasp your ankle in your hand, just keep your leg as close to perpendicular as possible and hold the bend, or place your foot on the seat of a chair.) Hold the stretch for 30 seconds then repeat on the left side.
Don’t worry if you can’t touch your toes or stretch as far as others, just do your best and improve over time.