As we continue on our #SFFRoadtoFitness I wanted to elaborate a little more on the importance of stretching appropriately. It’s a mistake that many trainers, athletes and coaches make all the time; stressing how important stretching is not not actually explaining why or how to do it correctly.
Not stretching properly or for an adequate period of time increases your chances of becoming injured. I’ve been active my whole life, from dance to basketball to tennis then gymnastics and eventually cheerleading (indecisive kid?), so stretching was something that had become second nature, I didn’t question why it was so important or what it was doing to my muscles, I just… you know, did it. Little did I know that all of that stretching was not only preventing injuries and helping my muscles heal more quickly after vigorous workouts, but it was also making me look leaner. Once I stopped taking my stretching seriously I started to see a big difference in how my muscles formed. I’ve made a new commitment to stretch once a day to not only improve my flexibility but to also make all those muscles I work so hard for look long and lean.
Full Body Stretch Sequence
*Hold each stretch for at least 15 seconds!
1. Straight Leg Reach with Arm to Sky – Straighten your leg out and reach to your ankle or toes – raising your arm to open up your body. You’ll feel this in your hamstrings as well as your obliques.
2. Bend over Back Roll with Reach – Slowly roll up the spinal column, exhaling and reach to sky and breathe in at top. (*** To sneak another muscle group in here you can stand on your tip toes as you reach for the top – this will stretch out your calves too!)
3. Quad Pullback – Stand upright and pull your foot up against your bottom. You’ll feel the fire in your quad! Lengthen your arm straight out and reach to stretch out that tricep! This stretch also tests your balance. Start with your right leg and finish with your left.
4. Knee to Chest Stretch – Stand upright and pull your knee into your chest, the tighter you pull the more you’ll feel the stretch in your bottom and hamstring. Again, make sure to do both legs, right then left.
5. Elbow Behind Back – Time to hit your arms. Place your arm behind your head with your elbow pointing upwards. Pull that elbow back with the opposite arm – this will hit your triceps. Lean to the side you are pulling towards to add your obliques and feel that stretch in your side. Don’t forget to switch arms!
6. Finger Lock Forward Bend & Finger Lock Chest Opener – Sounds a lot more complicated than it is, but this stretch will hit so many muscle groups.
Part 1 – Start by locking your fingers in front of your body – palms facing away from you. Push those palms forward and round your back out. You’ll feel this in your wrists, biceps and triceps too! We’re sneaking in as many muscles as we can 🙂
Part 2 – Lock your fingers behind your back, this time with your palms facing towards you. Pull those arms back and up and inhale deeply to open your chest. You’ll feel it in your chest triceps and back. This will counteract the previous stretch to hit every muscle group evenly.
7. Lunges with Straight Arm Reach – Do this stretch with both legs, starting with your right and ending with your left. Lunge forward keeping that back leg straight and making sure that your knee on the opposite leg does not go further than your toes. This will hit your quad and hamstring. Again, that straight arm reach at the top will lengthen your torso, stretching your triceps, biceps and shoulders! This compound movement is highly underrated and highly effective.
8. Cross Legged Back Twist – Start by crossing your right leg over your left leg trying as best as you can to align your knees. Lean forward and try to touch your chest to your knee. This will stretch out your hip flexors and open up your hips. Then target your back twist to your left making sure to look over your shoulder behind you. Do this on both sides. Then cross your legs the opposite way (left over right) and repeat the same stretch sequence.
Once you are all done, stand up straight to take two deep breaths in and out. Remember, breathing in and out deeply during your stretches helps relax your muscles and increase your overall wellness. Breath is the essence of life.
Working out, posting progress pics or trying one of my healthy recipes? Don’t forget to use the #SFFroad2fitness so I can see & cheer you on!