In our last article we went over some of the basics of stretches, including their benefits, the reasoning behind them, best practices and the first stretch we covered as an example of what’s to come.
Stretching the Calves, Thighs, and Glutes
We left off going over a calf, thigh and glute muscle stretch, the forward bend. But as we previously discussed, you should ideally do several for each muscle group. Another great one that targets the calves, as well as the shins and even your feet, is the curb stretch. As implied in the name, you will need access to a ledge or curb, or if you are just beginning to work out and stretch more, you could instead use a wall. Put the front half of your foot on the curb, but have the second half (slightly past the middle to the heel) hanging off the edge, forming a 30-45 degree angle downwards. This will stretch out your calves, while also working them out. And because of the need to balance while on the curb, you will also work your shins and even your supporting muscles on the bottom of your legs and feet.
A great one for stretching out your quadriceps (elegantly named the quad stretch), is to pull back your right foot with your right hand, and pull it behind you to touch your glutes, while trying to remain perfectly balanced. Balance may be hard, and like with the previous one, leads to stretching of the support muscles, and even a slight arm workout. After 20-30 seconds of this switch sides and repeat. A stretch to pair this with is to find a wall or a fence and extend your right foot out while keeping your left foot planted, and form as close to a 90 degree angle with your body as you can (but will ideally end up being closer to 60 degrees comfortably for most people). Lean your head toward the extended leg for better form. Keep your planted foot forward. This will stretch out your hamstrings, which if you do not keep in shape alongside your quads, you can experience serious knee issues.
Stretches for the Arms
For some quick arm stretches, begin with tricep stretches by taking your right hand and placing it behind your head, touching your opposite shoulder. The opposite sides help wake up your brain, and will start your arm stretches. Switch sides. Trapezium rotation is a stretch that you do both sides at once. Start by lifting up your shoulders (the trapezium is the muscle in between the tops of the shoulder and your neck), then moving them backwards, downwards, then forwards and upwards in a circle motion. Do at least 20 reps of this, very slowly. Neck rotations are another one to do slowly. Start by moving your head down, then very slowly move it up and to the right, in a circle all the way around a few times. Locking your fingers behind your head can also help stretch out your biceps, bringing your hands outwards and away from your body, with your knuckles facing outwards.
Looking for more stretches to try before working out? Visit STR8 Training, a fitness gym in San Marcos, TX, to get advice from one of our professional trainers.