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. (1) 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.
Avoid injuring yourself by getting the blood pumping before you start your workout. (2) 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 calve muscle.
Pull your knee of calve to 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, release and repeat for the other hamstring. 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 the torso towards your knees while keeping them 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 on the heels of your feet, keeping them perpendicular to the floor. 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.
From the seated position on the floor, bring your palms together in a prayer-like manner. Try to do the stretch with your hands behind your back, not in front of you.
Sit tall, either in the lotus position or with legs crossed. When attempting the stretch, try to interlink all five knuckle pads. If you struggle with open palms, try making a fist with your hands and repeat the exercise. Once you have achieved the pose, hold it for 10 seconds.
Laying on your back with knees bent and feet shoulder-width apart. Reach behind your head and place your palms on the floor.
Thrust the hips up and arch the neck to look at the floor below you. 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 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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