Let’s face it, as we get older… we don’t get much more flexible!
I have explained the importance of flexibility and range of motion (ROM) to many of my clients, and to my shock a lot of them had the misconception that increasing their activity levels will help improve flexibility.
However being more active doesn’t help things (actually making certain joints tighter and more fibrous), and it’s critical that athletes of all skill level, type, and age get that great post-routine stretch in order to keep things limber.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
Here’s my select, all-body, stretching routine that I find helps keep everything loosey-goosey!
More commonly called a forward lunge, this is my go to for stretching out my pelvis, thigh, back and lower leg all in one go! Set this up by stepping one foot out into an exaggerated lunge of sort, with your forward knee directly over its corresponding ankle.
Now with your trailing leg straight, slowly lower your hips downward and forward. Hold for 30 seconds and switch sides.
This takes that Fencers Stretch and turns it up a notch. Common to yoga, the Crescent Lunge is referred to Anjaneyasana and it gets a deeper stretch for the groin and the hip flexors while adding in a great stretch for the chest, abs, and shoulders.
Set yourself up the same as the Fencers Stretch, except start with your arms stretched upright with a slight backward arch to your spine. Now drop those hips forward and feel the stretch!
Another great stretch borrowed from yoga! Again, get yourself in that forward lunge position.
This time, instead of dropping your hips forward, slide your forward foot toward the midline of your body… coming down to the floor with your thigh tucked up and forward.
Ultimately you will feel this deep in your hip capsule which will get opened up with continued practice!
Stand upright with your feet together with your legs locked. Now slowly fold forward with your hands sliding down the front of your legs. SLOWLY fold forward and stop when you feel that you can no longer keep your legs locked straight or if you feel that there is excessive discomfort.
Hold for 30 seconds, and slowly stand back up.
Door Jam Stretch
Now it’s time for that upper body! Approach the threshold of a door with your arms abducted from your sides and your forearms flexed; making a 90 degree angle with your shoulders compared to your torso and another 90 degree angle with your forearms to your upper arms.
Walk into the doorway and gradually put pressure into your shoulder joints.
You should feel this stretching your pectoral girdle, but be sure to not put too much of your body weight into it; a little bit goes a long way!
Lat Chair Stretch
Kneel in front of a chair and place one of your hands outright onto its seat, and place your other hand on its elbow (making a figure 4 shape). Now fold over making a 90 degree angle with your hips.
You should feel a stretch in your lower to mid back, which can be augmented to allow for more of a stretch if you rotate your torso toward the side of your body with the bent arm.
Like always switch sides between stretches!
Hanging Lat Stretch
Stand facing an immovable object that you can hold onto and grab it with one hand. Slowly hang back off of your object initiating a stretch in your upper back muscles.
This is similar to the Lat Chair Stretch, however in this technique rotation can be made both internally and externally… allowing for a more intensive stretching of the anterior and posterior portion of your deltoid muscles.
Depth of your hang alters the intensity of this stretch, so be mindful of how far you go back!
Now obviously there are hundreds more stretches that can loosen up stiff joints and muscles, and this seven stretch routine is only a snippet of what you could do to achieve that optimal ROM.
Try these out after your next exercise session and add any of your personal favorites to make it perfect. With continued practice of these, with other stretches, there is no doubt that you will decrease the stiffness about your joints!