I’m sure many of you have heard this one time or another, “Whoa whoa whoa, what are you doing? You don’t need to stretch! Stretching is for wussies!”
Not stretching enough will eventually turn you into a wussy when it comes to working out. Stretching is fundamental when it comes to being fit and having a healthy body. Not stretching before and after working out will cramp your muscles and make them feel sore sooner and longer. This occurs because the muscles work optimally when stretched since stretching gets the blood flowing in them, has them experience a full range of motion, and gets them warmed up. This offers many benefits— greater mobility, prevention of injury, stress relief, increased circulation, and less muscle tension. Muscles are long strands of fibers that spend most of their lifetimes in a neutral position and a contracted position, giving them a stretch will elongate the fibers— increasing their functionality and elasticity.
~Tilt your head to the side as if you were to touch your Shoulder. Tilt as far as needed until a stretch is felt in the side of the neck, don’t force the stretch as you may cause damage to a muscle, hold for 10 seconds and repeat twice for each side.
~Tilt your head down and touch your chin with your upper chest, if possible, and hold for 10 seconds until a stretch is felt in the back of the neck. Repeat twice for 10 seconds.
~Tilt your head back and look up until a stretch is felt in the front neck, hold for 10 seconds and repeat twice.
~Neck Rolls are a controversial stretch since it’s known to give people cramps in the neck. It’s performed by simply combining all of the above exercises in one fluid motion. Rotate your head by looking down, and rolling it towards your Shoulder, then rolling it back, towards your other shoulder, and returning to the starting position. Perform this rotating one way and then the other. Complete the rotation about 5 times each side.
~Since the Traps are primarily an up and down moving muscle group, stretch them by holding something heavy in your hands and let them hang so that they pull down on the Traps, do so twice for 20 seconds.
~Place a weighted backpack on your back and let the weight pull your Shoulders down, do so twice for 20 seconds.
~The Lats pull the Shoulder blades back, in order to stretch them, you can either have them stretch from hanging or from pulling.
~Find a bar or place where you can safely hang from, hold onto the bar and let your body hang, you will quickly feel a stretch in the Lats, hold for 20 seconds and repeat twice.
~Bend over, about 60-90 degrees, with a straightened back, simulating a One-Arm Dumbbell Bent-Over Row, and hold a weighted object in one hand and let it hang as close to the floor as possible until a stretch is felt. Repeat with the other side. Do this twice for 20 seconds.
~Find a sturdy place where you can pull on. Standing, grab a sturdy surface where your hands can be placed close together and place your feet at the base of the object you’re grabbing and hang off of it until a stretch is felt in the Lats. Repeat twice for 20 seconds.
~Toe-Touches are good for the lower back and should be self explanatory. Keep the legs as straight as possible and bend over to reach as close to your toes as possible. This stretch is secondarily felt in the Glutes and Hamstrings. Repeat twice for 20 seconds.
~Arm Circles are a popular stretch to do that stretches the overall Shoulder. Seated or standing, extend your arms outward and begin rotating them in circles, clockwise or counter-clockwise, for about 10 rotations twice. How high, low, forwards, and backwards is up to your flexibility. Stretch them to the best to your abilities.
~Place one arm across the body along your chest, and hold it in place with your other arm. Extending the first arm as far is possible will give a great stretch in the rear Shoulder. Repeat twice for 20 seconds.
~Lock your hands together behind you with your palms facing up, then, turn your palms so that they face down and finally raise them up towards the sky. Repeat twice for 20 seconds.
~Sit, or stand, on an inclined bench and hold a weighted object in each hand, let your arms hang behind your body until a stretch is felt in your Biceps, going too far will tear the muscle. Hold for 20 seconds, twice.
~Lie down on the floor or on a bench, hold a weighted object in each hand with your arms straight and close together above your Chest. Slowly lower the weighted objects down to the sides of your Chest with your elbows bent and a stretch is felt in the Chest. Hold for 20 seconds twice.
~Hold onto a sturdy object with a straight arm at 90-degrees with your torso. Rotate your torso so that your arm goes behind your body and your Chest stretches. This is also felt in the front Shoulders. Hold for 20 seconds twice for each side.
~In a doorway, hold onto each side of the doorway with both arms and, holding tightly, lean your body forwards until you feel your Chest stretching. Repeat twice for 20 seconds.
~Point one arm towards the ceiling, then bend the elbow as far as possible behind your back. Your elbow should be pointed towards the ceiling and held in place with your other hand. Repeat twice for each arm for 20 seconds.
~Placing your hands onto a sturdy edge or bench, simulate doing bench dips, hold at the bottom position with your elbows bent at 90-degrees and hold for 20 seconds twice.
~Lie down on the ground, belly down, and place your hands by the sides of your upper Obliques, as if doing a low pushup, and arch your back backwards while straightening your arms. You will feel an immediate stretch in the overall abs. Repeat twice for 20 seconds.
~Point your right arm towards the ceiling, then, bend your body sideways to the left and point your right arm to the left, above your body, and you will feel an immediate stretch in the Obliques. Repeat twice for each side for 20 seconds.
~Standing, bend one leg back towards your buttocks and hold it there by grabbing your foot or ankle with your hand. Bending the leg back even further, with your pelvis as the pivot point, will stretch the leg even further. Hold for 20 seconds twice for each leg.
~On the ground on your knees, sit back on your feet as far as possible. If able to sit on them effortlessly, lean your body back towards the ground. Hold for 20 seconds twice.
~Standing, try to touch your toes, arching your back is perfectly fine as long as your legs are kept straight. Can also be performed by spreading the legs wide apart and trying to touch the ground in between or reaching for one foot at a time. Repeat twice for 20 seconds.
~Sitting on the ground, extend your feet in front of you, then, reach for your toes. Can be done one leg at a time by tucking the non-stretching leg into the side of your thigh. Repeat twice for 20 seconds.
~Find a stable, elevated edge where you can safely place your feet on, about sidewalk height or lower. Place the front half of your feet on the edge and let the rest of your feet hang off. Allow your heels to go as low as possible. Hold for 20 seconds and perform twice.
Stretching before and after exercising should be incorporated into your exercise regimen and daily life. Even though stretching might seem like a minuscule thing to do, it will slowly but surely assist you in making gains and also ensure you are able to exercise much longer in your lifetime. Stretching in between sets of an exercise is a very good thing to do as well. While you’re resting in between a set, you can stretch the muscles you’re working in order to “decompress” them and allow for you to complete a few more reps in the next set you wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. Having the blood constantly flowing will ensure you don’t get a cramp mid-exercise. When doing an exercise, you don’t always want to stretch during the exercise because the muscle is intended to be kept under tension in order to tear the muscle fibers which later leads to muscle growth. So stretch those