Stretching is SO IMPORTANT, however, most of us don’t give this part of our exercise program the respect it deserves.
These basic stretches will improve flexibility and help you avoid injury. If you aren’t sure of what to do, book a session with a Personal Trainer, Physiotherapist or Osteopath who can show you the correct techniques.
You should set aside 10 minutes at the end of your session for a really good stretch, however, something is better than nothing. A longer stretch on non-exercising days does wonders.
Why is Stretching So Important?
We live in a society where most of us are sitting for longer periods each day. We slouch over our desks and can back pain becomes a problem.
Some of the benefits of stretching are:
- Improved Posture
- Reduces Lower Back Pain
- Helps prevent loss of mobility as we age
- Reduces the risk of Injury
- Reduces stress on muscles used in exercise
The most important thing is to make sure you don’t push too hard. Take it gently and if it is hurting pull back a little or stop.The more you stretch, the more flexible you become. Don't push it, avoid injury and stretch gently.Click To Tweet
Hold each pose for as long as you can – 30seconds tostart and then build up to 2 minutes.
REMEMBER: Don’t push only stretch as far as you can WITHOUT PAIN. If you stretch daily your flexibility will gradually improve so be patient. SLOWLY come out of each pose, DON’T RUSH.
Here are Nikki’s Top 3 Reminders to Avoid Injury when stretching:
- Just like warming up, stretching should start gently. Begin your stretch and apply pressure so your stretch would be a 6/7 out of 10. Then after your muscles have relaxed a little you can apply more pressure so your stretch sits around 8/9 out of 10. The rule with your body is if there’s pain, stop!
- You’ll get better results (more flexible muscles) if you stretch when your body is warm.
- Listen to your body, it will tell you what needs to be stretched. Spend the most time on the muscle groups that have the least amount of flexibility.
Stretching can be an exercise on it’s own and can be done every morning as part of your morning routine.
My Top 12 Basic Stretches
Nikki takes me through these stretching poses at the end of each session and I have been trying to incorporate them into my daily life. I always feel so much better after a good stretch and it certainly helps my recovery. I’ve had a problem with my lower back but since I started daily stretching it feels so much better – AND NO PAIN!
I do have problems with flexibility because of my back pain, but the more I stretch the more flexible I am becoming. I’ve had lower back pain for years, but doing the stretches Nikki has taught me has brought immense relief and freedom of movement.
Hold each pose for at least 30 seconds to 1 minute – STOP IF YOU FEEL PAIN – DON’T PUSH IT STRETCH GENTLY.
Lower Back Stretches
Hug Knees to Body
Lay on your back and pull both knees into your chest.
Hug Knees to Body – Alternate legs
Lay on your back, keep one leg straight and pull the other into your chest. Hold the pose then repeat on the other side.
Knee Across Body Stretch
Lay on your back with arms out to side and one leg extended. Cross the other leg over your body and stretch using your opposite hand.
Point to remember is to keep both shoulders on the ground.
One Knee bent and the other on the ground. Tilt your pelvic floor forward and bend forward slightly.
Knee bent and the other behind on the ground. Hands by the side of your front knee. Lean forward.
Stand tall, hold onto a wall or chair if you need extra help with balance. Hold onto your foot and try to bend knee.
Lunge forward dropping back knee to ground.
Upper Body Stretches
Arm across Body Stretch
Stand straight stretch one arm across the body. Hold the pose and then repeat on the other side.
Arm Behind Back Stretch
Hold arms behind head try to reach one arm down your back.
Downward Dog Pose
Place hands and feet on ground and lift your hips. You will feel a stretch in your hamstrings. The aim is to try to get your heels on the ground. Just go as far as you can – it isn’t a competition. Try ‘walking the dog’ by lowering your heels alternately.
Lay on back legs stretched out. Using a towel, wrap around your foot and lift leg as high as you can.
Kneel down, hands stretched in front of body and head on the ground. If you have problems with your knees perhaps omit this one.
Extra – Core Strength Exercise
This exercise will help develop your core strength. Try to get a flat line of your body and hold as long as you can. Start with 15 – 30 seconds.
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