Stretching: Some love it. Some loathe it.
The reality is – you need to stretch before and after any strenuous activity. Period. It doesn’t matter, how good you are at your sport or discipline. If you don’t ‘activate’ your muscles in the form of stretching, you risk injury. As a former professional dancer and current fitness instructor/personal trainer, I can vouch first hand on the benefits of a good stretch.
There are 2 types of stretching disciplines: dynamic (used in warm ups) and static (used mid and post workout) In many of my group fitness classes, I often see clients stretching in the wrong technique. Or, a trend of late clients arriving late and leaving early! I understand work commitments and lunch-break time limits, however, stretching should still be done (even doing it in the change room or back at work is ok!)
Basic Dynamic Warm up stretches:
- Try some leg swings (keeping leg straight as possible), hold the wall/chair for stability to activate hamstrings and quads.
- Lateral side stretches with slight bounce/pulse to activate side torso. Two feet apart and parallel, bring one arm up above your head and slightly bend side ways. Repeat other side.
- Lunges with small bounces, not too deep into the lunge to activate most major leg muscle groups
- With 2 feet apart and parallel, bring both arms behind your body, clutching your hands together, bend your body forward while trying to touch the ground with arms. This activates, upper body, arms, as well as hamstrings and glutes.
After your workout, I always recommend a 5 minute stretch routine. If your workouts are muscle group specific, be sure to stretch the muscles you used. Hold each stretch for 8-10 seconds.
Here is a basic guide of the “big” muscles that NEED attention:
- QUADRICEP STRETCH: – one leg bent behind, hand holding foot close to your buttocks
keep knees together, thighs together, and pelvis tilted under. Raise one arm for balance.
Muscles stretched: Quads, hip flexors
- LUNGE STRETCH: hips and feet parallel, step forward with one leg and bend both legs keeping weight in the centre, don’t let your knee stick out the front, body weight kept in the centre and evenly distributed
Muscles stretched: hamstrings, glutes, quads, Achilles tendon
- CALF STRETCH: One foot behind, one foot in front, feet and hips parallel. Keep back leg straight and front leg bent, body straight, heel of back leg should stay on the floor hence the calf stretch.
Muscles stretched: calf muscle
- FLAT BACK (using bar/wall/table): Hold bar/wall/table and bend over to create a flat back keeping legs straight. Press down with shoulders, elongating back and spine. Pull hips back away from bar/wall to lengthen and feel a deeper stretch.
Muscles stretched: erectors, latissimus dorsi, deltoids, hamstrings, glutes, rhomboids
Nikki Atzori – Nudabite contributor and Cory Vines brand ambassador.
Interested in working out with Nikki? You can take one of her classes by visiting MAA or B.Cycle.