The importance of warming up before exercising
There are many stretches one can and should do before starting an exercise regime. The very good reason why one should do stretches before any exercise is because of the increased risk for ligament, tendons and muscle tears if the aforementioned body tissues are not given time to ‘warm up’.
Clinical evidence for the benefits of stretching have been mixed, with some studies showing that stretching provides significant usefulness to prevent injury while some have shown none at all. Regardless, until there is conclusive scientific evidence for either side, here are some good stretching exercises you can utilise just to ‘play it safe’.
Preword: Be sure to warm up for five to ten minutes before doing any stretches, and keep stretches gentle! Do not stretch until you feel pain(as that means you’ve stretched too far), and hold each stretch for at least ten seconds.
These are 8 stretching exercises you can do after you warm up
1) Hamstring Stretch
The hamstring is on the back of your upper leg. Lie on the floor against a surface and rest your leg on the surface at a 90 degree angle. Straighten your leg until you feel a stretch on your hamstring, and hold for 10-30 seconds. Repeat on the other leg.
2) Calf Stretch
Your calf is on the back of your lower leg. Be one arm’s length away from a chair, and hold onto the chair(or any object that can support your weight). Place your left foot about half a metre behind your right foot. Bend your right leg forward while left knee straight and your left heel flat on the floor. Stretch until you feel slight tension, then hold for 10-30 seconds. Repeat on the other leg.
3) Hip Flexor Stretch
Your hip flexors are located on your upper thigh. Kneel on your right knee and use a small pillow or towel to cushion your right kneecap. Place your left leg in front of you and bend at a 90 degree angle. Hold on to your left leg for stability. Place your right hand on your right leg to prevent bending at your waist. Keep your back straight, and bend forward to feel a stretch on your right thigh. Hold for 10-30 seconds. Repeat on the other leg.
4) Iliotibial Band Stretch
Your iliotibial band is a band of tissue than is along your hip, thigh and knee. Find a flat vertical surface that can support your weight and you can hold onto it. Stand up straight, and place your hand on the vertical surface. Cross the leg further away from the wall over the leg closer to the wall. Extend your free hand(your hand further away from the wall over your head and stretch. You should feel a slight stretch on your hip. Hold for 10-30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
5) Quadriceps Stretch
Your quadriceps is located at the front of your thigh. Find a flat vertical surface that can support your weight and you can hold onto it. Stand up straight, and place your hand on the vertical surface. Grasp your ankle with your hand and pull your leg up until you feel a stretch in your thigh. Tighten your stomach muscles to prevent your stomach from bulging, and keep your knees close. Hold for 10-30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
6) Shoulder Stretch
This exercise is simple. Bring your left arm across your body and hold it with your right arm. Hold for 10-30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
7) Shoulder Stretch with a Towel
Grasp a towel place on your back with both hands. Pull the towel until straightened, exerting greater force with the hand that is higher, until you feel a stretch. Hold for 10-30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
8) Neck Stretch
This exercise is simple too. Bend your head forward and slightly to the right. With your right hand, pull your head downwards gently, until you feel a stretch. Hold for 10-30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Stretching can not only prevent injuries but also potentially improve your physical performance in activities. It can also give you more flexibility as your range of motion is improved and helps your muscles work more efficaciously. Stretching can also improve blood flow through your body, so be sure to stretch before performing any exercises.