Stretching may not be the most exciting part of your workout, but it’s a necessary practice. Joint mobility declines with age and injury, particularly among males. Stretching keeps you flexible and mobile throughout your life, into old age.
Unfortunately, stretching doesn’t build muscle mass or keep you lean. This fact leads to most stretch sessions usually comprising of a few half-hearted knee bends, and shoulder stretches in your rush to hit the weights. Pec-tears, torn biceps, and blown out quadriceps are all examples of injuries that can occur during your workout due to a lack of warming up.
You can avoid injuring yourself by getting the blood pumping before you start your workout. Yoga is a traditional Indian form of stretching and meditation created thousands of years ago. The “poses” in yoga may seem easy, but they are challenging to master.
Start this stretch by lying down flat on your back and crossing your left ankle over your right. This figure-four position is the base of the movement. Reach up and grab the back of your right knee, or right calf muscle.
Pull your knees towards your face and feel the pull in your hamstrings. Keep the feet tight and flexed for stability, and push your glutes into the floor. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds, then release and repeat on the other side. Don’t forget to control your breathing.
Take a towel and roll it up into a cylindrical shape. Slip it under the balls of your feet and stand up tall with the balls of your feet on the blanket and heels planted firmly on the ground. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and fold your torso towards your knees, which should be slightly bent.
Reach your palms toward the floor and feel the stretch in your hamstrings and calves. Hold the pose for ten seconds, breathing deeply.
Sit back into a squat position, with thighs perpendicular to the floor and your weight in your heels. Reach both arms overhead while hooking the thumbs together. As you extend your arms, elongate your spine and feel the stretch pull through your entire back down to the feet. Lean back to make things more comfortable, and hold the pose for 10 seconds, while focusing on your breathing. This pose is excellent for rehabilitating sore feet and conditions like plantar fasciitis.
Begin in a cross-legged seated position on the floor, bringing your palms together in a prayer-like manner. Sit tall, flexing your feet, and begin to fold forward, being sure not to round the back. Once you have reached a comfortable tension, hold for 10 seconds.
Lay on your front, with legs extended and arms at your side. Start bending through the knees, bringing your heels as close to your abdomen as possible. Now reach back and grab the outside of the ankles, pulling the chest and thighs off the ground.
Focus on tightening the glutes and core to stabilize yourself. Feel the stretch in your core and hips. Hold the pose for ten seconds, release to the starting position and repeat for 5 rounds.
For this final pose lie flat on your stomach with your hands extended in front of you. Stretch out and then bring your palms to the sides of your chest. Look upward to the ceiling and simultaneously push up from the floor, keeping the hips and legs hovering slightly above your mat. while keeping the hips pressed down. Arch your back through the movement and feel the stretch through your spine, hips, quads, and calves.
Hold the position for ten seconds before returning to the start. Repeat for 5 rounds and remember to breathe on the way up and exhale on the way down.
Not sure if yoga is for you? Read our article on 12 reasons men should do yoga everyday here.
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