I’ve been getting a lot of questions recently from people at the gym asking if I have a good stretch for muscle x, y, or z. As weird as it sounds, I’m actually surprised when people ask me! But I can always come up with something good 🙂
I realized that there are only a handful of stretches I actually do. I think it’s difficult for me to find a stretch that really works, you know? Like sometimes a stretch is simply not stretchy enough!
But it gave me the idea to share some of my favorite stretches with you on the blog. So here it goes! Stretches should be held for a minimum of 20 seconds each to receive the full benefit. I’ve posted about all the good health reasons to incorporate stretching into your workout here, so definitely read through it if you haven’t!
I am a huge fan of the supine twist- I feel like it’s the only stretch that really helps my lower back! Just as in the picture, cross your legs and lean them over towards the side of the bottom leg. Then look towards the opposite side of the room. Try to keep both of your shoulders pressed to the ground. To get even more of a stretch, bring your knees up close to your extended arm. To modify, you can keep your bottom leg straight in front of you or uncross the legs and keep both knees bent.
This one is the “thread the needle” pose. It’s amazing for your shoulders! Start on all fours with your knees in line with your hips and your hands in line with your shoulders. Take one arm off the floor and thread it underneath the other arm. You can hold the stretch like this or extend the arm resting on the floor just like the picture.
Ok, so normally I don’t extend my arms up for this one; I usually keep my legs positioned exactly the way she does in this picture and just come down onto my forearms next to my bent knee. It’s a great deeper stretch for your quads- especially after hundreds of squats and lunges!
Place one leg up on a barre with the opposite foot directly underneath your hip. Keep a slight bend in your standing knee. First, reach over with your hands and grab onto the barre trying to pull your head towards your leg. Hold for a bit and then come up into a twist as this girl is doing. The twist will add a nice low back bonus stretch!
This stretch is called “Pigeon pose.” Start in a down dog position (hands and feet on the floor with your head down and your body in an inverted V position). Pull one leg forward and drop your foot right next to the opposite hand. Relax your hips down towards the floor and come down onto your forearms if possible. For a deeper stretch, you can drop your head all the way to the ground and extend your arms straight- walk your hands over to the side of the bent knee.
If you need a little extra motivation, here are two old stretching videos of mine for the upper and lower body:
What are some of your favorite stretches? Do you make time to stretch before or after a workout?