Finding a  flexibility training routine is often the neglected component of a workout. Maintaining flexibility is critical to sports performance, helps with injury prevention, is relaxing, meditative, and improves overall health.

There are three major or core components to physical fitness:  cardio vascular/aerobic activity, muscle strength/ endurance, and flexibility/stretching.  A flexibility training routine that is simple but addresses major muscles and muscle groups may help you adhere to your program even if you do not like to stretch.

Some feel stretching can be hard or even boring, and it may cause discomfort and apprehension when done incorrectly.  Just as working out can be more fun with someone else, partner stretching can make it easier to stick to a stretching routine . No worries if you’re going solo, these stretching tips can be used on your own.

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Instead of trying to stretch haphazardly or randomly the entire body, try breaking up the stretching routine into two sections – the upper and lower body.  Spend just a few minutes every day or alternate depending on your workout; and remember to avoid stretching cold muscles so warm up for a few minutes first.

Stretches should never cause pain or forced and held for 20-30 seconds or repeated for 2-3 seconds 5 to 10 times.  Feet should be hip to shoulder width apart with soft knees for all standing stretches.

flexibility-training-routine_2

UPPER BODY – total time: 2 ½ minutes

Chest, Biceps, and Shoulders

– Stand, clasp hands behind back and with straight arms raise hands upwards.  Bending forward at the waste is an option.

Triceps

– Lift one arm, bend at the elbow so hand is behind the back, and use the other hand to pull the elbow gently toward the head. Repeat on other side

Upper and Lower Back

– An easy stretch for the upper back is to stand with hands on hips.  Press the elbows forward without rolling the shoulders.

– For the lower back, lie on your back, bend knees, and pull them in to the chest with both arms.  Tucking the chin in toward the chest increases the stretch.

LOWER BODY – total time:  5 ½ minutes

Thighs

-For the front of the thighs (quadriceps), stand on one foot, bend the other knee, grab the ankle, and while keeping the bent leg perpendicular to the floor, pull the heel toward the buttocks.  Try not to lean forward and if balance is an issue, use a wall or chair for support.  Repeat on other side.

– For the back of the thighs (hamstrings), sit on floor with legs flat, bend one knee to the side placing foot on the inner thigh of the straight leg, and reach forward from the waste keeping the back straight. Repeat on other side.

– For the inner thighs (adductors), sit on the floor with legs extended outward in a V, and slowly bend forward from the hips.

Hips and Gluteals

– Sit on floor with legs straight out in front, bend one knee, place foot onto the floor over the straight leg, and turn upper body toward the side of the bent leg using hands or elbows for assistance.  Repeat on other side.

– Sit on a chair, cross one ankle over the other thigh, and gently push down on the bent knee while leaning forward slightly with a flat back.  In same position, gently pull upward on the bent knee toward the opposite shoulder.  Repeat both stretches on other side.

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