Of all the fitness related journeys that you embark upon, stretching takes the least amount of time but promises great long-term benefits. It suits your busy lifestyles perfectly as it takes less time, can be practiced anytime and anywhere, does not hog a lot of energy and can be practiced by people of all ages.
Stretching increases muscle strength and releases the tension accumulated within the body. It Improves range of motions, increases flexibility, improves circulation, corrects your posture and calms the mind.
So,here are some easy and effective stretches that you should try:
1 . Knees To Chest: Lie flat on your back. Bend your knees and bring them to your chest. Hold the knees with your hand and stay for 30 seconds. Let go and return to starting position. Repeat 4-5 times. This stretch relaxes your spine and lower-back muscles.
2 . Back Extension/Cobra Stretch: Lie down on your chest. Bend your hands and place them under your shoulder. Slowly press up so that your body from the hip above rises. Your body from hip down should touch the ground firmly. Hold for 5 seconds and return to starting position. Repeat 4-5 times. This stretch strengthens the back and the core and relieves lower-back pain.
3 . Cat Stretch: Get down on all fours. Body should rest on your palms and knees. Toes and fingers should point outwards. From this position slowly push your back outwards from the shoulder blades and the hip. Hold for 10 seconds and return to starting position. Repeat 4-5 times. This stretch strengthens the back and relaxes the core.
4 . Neck Stretch: Rotate your head both clock and anti-clock wise for 10 seconds in each duration to start. From a stationary position (head straight) bend your head forward so that the chin touches the chest and hold for 5 seconds. Slowly return to the starting position and bend the head towards your right shoulder and hold for 5 seconds. Similarly practice the technique while looking towards the ceiling and bending left. A full circle consists of 4 stretches and should be repeated once daily. This stretches the neck and improves circulation to the brain.
5 . Calves Stretch: Stand facing a wall with both hands straight touching the wall. Step back while touching the wall so that you are leaning on the wall. Let one leg hold position and move the other leg forward bending it. The distance between the wall and the bent leg should be equal to the distance between the legs. Practice with both legs for 10 seconds each. Repeat 3 times. This technique relaxes and strengthens the calves.
6 . Hamstring Stretch. Stand straight in front of a chair/bench. Place the heel of one leg on the chair/bench while keeping the leg straight. Bend in front slightly to maintain a comfortable pressure on the raised leg. Practice with both legs for 10 seconds each. Repeat 4-5 times. This stretch relaxes the hamstrings.
7 . Quad Stretch: Stand straight in front of a wall/chair for support (if necessary) with legs apart by a foot. Bend your left knee and hold the left foot with the left hand and bring it to touch the hips or the buttocks. Practice with both sides and hold each for 10 seconds. Repeat thrice to relax the hips and the quads.
8 . Toe Hold: Sit with the back straight and the legs spread in front with the thighs touching each other. Pull in the stomach and bend in front. Hold your toe fingers with the hands and hold for 15 seconds. Repeat about 4-5 times. This exercise stretches the arms, back, hamstrings, buttocks, calves and hip muscles.
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THINGS TO REMEMBER
A few things to remember while stretching:
-Focus on the technique. Correct stretching is painless.
-Warm up with a short walk or jog before stretching.
-Do not move around while practicing stretches.
-Concentrate on your stretch.
-Create a routine and practice regularly for best results.
-Breathe while stretching.
While it is fine to try these simple stretches at home, those with muscle/bone related ailments should consult a doctor before trying any of the stretches mentioned here.