How often do you stretch??
(Stretching your arms when you wake up in the morning does NUH COUNT).
If you go to yoga routinely – good for you! I don’t. I never go. Except that time I bought a Groupon for 30 days, and then I HAD to go. Gotta get my moneys worth, ya know??
Since I workout, walk and sit in a desk for 90% of my life, stretching is so crucial. Especially after a workout:
Tight hips and hamstrings are a HUGE factor in why people get lower back pain, and why they aren’t able to squat properly.
Tight calves can cause tight feet, which turn into bunions or foot cramps (I’ve actually had to end workouts halfway through due to foot cramps – so annoying).
Tight glutes can affect your knee alignment and your hips, and therefore affect your form.
There are so many other issues that arise from having super tight and tense lower body muscles, but these are the most common in my experience.
I do a 10 minute warm up before every workout, and a 6 minute cool down post workout stretch routine afterwards. No matter how long my workout is, I always make time to stretch. If you leave the gym immediately after completing your workout – stop. Make it a priority before leaving. Even if it means ending your workout 5 minutes early to get that stretch in.
The main areas I focus on when I stretch are:
(…. basically all the muscles).
I press Start on my stop watch, and every 30 seconds I alternate legs, or move onto the next stretch until i’ve completed them all. If a particular area is more tight or sore than the others, I will stay in that stretch for up to 90 seconds.
The mat i’m using is from BYoga and it is amazing! It’s solid and anti-slip (key for a sweaty human such as myself) and it comes with this super dope/hip leather bag strap. I place the Turkish towel under my knee for the first stretch, as the mat alone is not enough for the pressure on the bone.
(All photos are taken by the lovely Bettina Bogar)
6 Minute Post Workout Stretch Routine
Kneeling Quad & Hip Stretch
Stretches quads & hips
Set up so that your left foot is flat on the ground, and your right knee is kneeling behind you. Ensure your left knee is directly over your left toes – you don’t want to be leaning into the stretch here. Instead what you will do is tuck your tailbone under, almost like you’re curving your bum towards your belly button. You should feel a stretch in the front of your right hip. Now, carefully lift your right foot and grab it with your right hand. You should feel a good stretch in both the right quad and hip. Keep your torso upright and ensure both your hips and chest are facing forward.
Opens hip joint, stretches the glutes & groin
Slide your left knee forward so that your thigh and knee are directly in front of the hip (as much as possible). Place your left foot towards your right hip, keeping your knee from sliding to the side. Your shin does NOT need to be parallel with the mat, but your hips should be facing forward. The right leg should be extended behind you, with the top of your foot flat on the mat. You can either lean over your bent leg, or keep your torso upright.
Low Lunge Stretch
Opens and loosens tight hip flexors & groin
Step forward with your left foot and bend at the knee. Your right leg should be extended out behind you, with your knee several inches off the ground. Sit into your left leg, allowing your hips to open up as much as possible. Place your hands beside your left foot, with your torso parallel with your upper left leg. Try to maintain your pose so that your right knee stays off the ground.
Kneeling Groin Stretch
Stretches and opens your groin
Start on your hands and knees with your knees running the length of the mat. Slowly spread your knees further apart, until you can comfortably maintain that position and feel a stretch in your groin muscles in both legs. Spread your feet apart, so that your shins are running parallel to one another, rather than forming a V shape. If you’re able to, rest yourself down on your forearms as i’m showing in the photo. Otherwise stay up on your hands, leaning your chest forward and over the ground.
Standing Hamstring Stretch
Stretches hamstrings, glutes, calves
Stand with your feet together, legs and knees as straight as possible. Bend at the hips, with your hands either folded in front of you, or touching the ground. If you can’t reach the ground without bending at the knees, just let your torso hang. Keep your shoulders back, and avoid letting your back round out and hunch over.
Seated Glute Stretch
Stretches glutes & hip flexors
Sit on your bum with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Take your right foot, and place it over your left thigh, close to the knee. Keep your weight on your hands behind you, and your torso upright facing forward. The closer your right foot is to your chest, the more intense the stretch will be. Don’t lean your chest towards your foot to make this a deeper stretch. Instead, lift the toes of the planted foot so that the heel is the only part touching the mat. This will push your left knee, and therefore your foot, towards you.
Alternating Calf Stretch
Stretches calves & hamstrings
Set up in downward dog so that your hands are slightly in front of your head and arms extended. Your body should form an upside V, with your legs and feet in line with your hands. Bring your left heel down to the ground and hold for ~5 seconds. Alternate heels, lifting up your left one and bringing down the right heel, stretching out the calf muscle.
Now you have your stretches figured out – what about your workouts? If you’re bored of your current training program, check out my 12-week HIIT E-Book, The Sweat Series!
Pin For Later!