30 Days of Stretching – Day 26

Low Back Stretch

Muscles stretched: low back
How to: This is a great stretch for first thing in the morning…or just about anytime, especially when your lower back is bothering you. Lay on your back and pull both knees into your chest. Close your eyes and hold for 15 seconds. You can add some dynamic movement here to loosen up by rocking slightly side to side or front to back. You can keep your head, neck, and shoulders on the floor and just make circles with your knees. All of these simple, slow movements will add to the stretch.
How long: Hold this stretch for 15 seconds and repeat this stretch for 3 rounds.
Disclaimer: this post does not claim to cure any medical issues you may be having. Please speak with your healthcare professional before embarking on any fitness routine.
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30 Days of Stretching – Day 25

Wide Leg Standing Forward Bend

Muscles stretched: hamstrings, groin, lower back, calves
How to: This stretch is similar to the standing forward bend I posted about on Day 2 except your legs are spread wide. I am showing 2 options here, one for the more flexible person and one for the person with tight hamstrings, but both are executed the same way. Begin by spreading your legs as wide as you feel comfortable keeping both feet firm on the ground, hinge forward from your waist and place your hands or forearms on the ground. Feel free to use a yoga block as shown in option “B” if your hamstrings are very tight, and a slight bend in your knee is ok as well.
How long: Hold this stretch for 15 seconds and repeat this stretch for 3 rounds.
Disclaimer: this post does not claim to cure any medical issues you may be having. Please speak with your healthcare professional before embarking on any fitness routine.
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30 Days of Stretching – Day 24

Figure Four Stretch/Pigeon Stretch   

Muscles stretched: glutes (specifically the piriformis)
How to: This stretch is great for sciatic pain. Here I am showing 2 options because not everyone will be able to get into the position for Option “B.” If you chose Option “A” being by laying on your back, cross your right ankle across your left knee then thread your hands through to hold on to the back of your left thigh as you bring your left knee towards your chest. If you chose Option “B” start in down dog, then lift your right leg up straight behind you, bend the knee and bring the bent knee up through your hands placing your bent leg to the ground in front of you. Keep the left leg extended straight behind you. The goal is to have the right glute touch the ground, but if you can’t you can place a yoga block or towel under (I have a yoga block under me in the photo.) Once you are in the position feel free to walk your hands out in front of you and lay across your front bent leg for more of a stretch.
How long: Hold this stretch for 15 seconds on each side. Repeat this stretch for 3 rounds.
Disclaimer: this post does not claim to cure any medical issues you may be having. Please speak with your healthcare professional before embarking on any fitness routine.
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30 Days of Stretching – Day 23

Wrist/Forearm Stretch

Muscles stretched: wrists, forearms
How to: I used this stretch a lot in my warm up when I taught gymnastics. Begin by sitting or kneeling on the ground. Place your palms on the ground with fingers facing towards you elbows straight. This may be just enough of a stretch for you but if not lean slightly forward. You should feel the stretch in your wrists and forearms. Next turn the wrists around with palms on the ground now with the fingers facing away from your body. This way should feel less intense than the first way. Finally, flip your wrists over so the tops on your hands are on the ground with palms up, fingers facing your body. Don’t apply too much pressure when in this position, but just enough to give a little stretch.
How long: Hold this stretch for 10-15 seconds in each position. Repeat this stretch for 3 rounds.
Disclaimer: this post does not claim to cure any medical issues you may be having. Please speak with your healthcare professional before embarking on any fitness routine.
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30 Days of Stretching – Day 22

Side Lunge  

Muscles stretched: groin, hips
How to: I am showing 2 options here depending on your flexibility. You may be “A” or you may be “B” or anywhere in-between. Start with a wide stance and good posture. Feet should be wider than shoulder width. Shift your weight into your right foot bending the knee while the left leg remains straight. Your weight should be in your heel as your push your rear end back and keep your chest lifted. You should feel the stretch in the inner thigh of the straight leg. If option “A” isn’t enough of a stretch for you work your way a little lower, but no matter how low you go keep the foot of the bent knee flat on the floor (don’t roll into the ball of your foot allowing your heel to come off the ground.)
How long: Hold this stretch for 15 seconds on each side. Repeat this stretch for 3 rounds.
Disclaimer: this post does not claim to cure any medical issues you may be having. Please speak with your healthcare professional before embarking on any fitness routine.
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30 Days of Stretching – Day 21

Feet & Ankle Stretch  

Muscles stretched: tops of feet, ankles, Achilles tendon, calves, shins

How to: First off, if my sister sees this she will definitely make fun of me for the lack of flexibility and arch in my foot…she is a former ballerina. She used to love to torture me by making me try on her pointe shoes when we were kids…NOT FUNNY! (Props to all ballerinas out there…those shoes HURT) Anyway…whether you are new to fitness, advanced in fitness, or not into fitness at all, (you still walk around) this stretch is for you. It feels so good to take your shoes off at the end of the day and stretch your feet and ankles, but honestly how many people actually do that? Give it a try. This photo just shows pointing and flexing the feet, but you can take it even further by rotating the ankles in circles clockwise and counter-clockwise. You can use this stretch first thing in the morning, after a long day, or before and/or after your workout. If you are not very flexible ( like me!) when you point your toes you may feel a lot of pulling or stretching in the tops of your feet. When you flex the feet and pull the toes back you may feel the stretch even up the back of your leg into your calves.

How long: Start by holding each position for about 5 seconds each moving slowly from “A” to “B” for 5 repetitions. Then hold each position for 15 seconds on your 6th rep.

Disclaimer: this post does not claim to cure any medical issues you may be having. Please speak with your healthcare professional before embarking on any fitness routine.
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30 Days of Stretching – Day 20

Seated Straddle 

Muscles stretched: hamstrings, groin, lower back
How to: Begin by sitting on the floor and spreading your legs apart. Everyone will have a different starting point. Some people may have their feet wide and others may only have them about a foot apart. If you have very tight hamstrings you may not be able to straighten your legs out and you also may not be able to sit up straight. If this is the case for you do this stretch with your legs closer together. Just sitting in the straddle position with good posture might be enough of a stretch for you, but if you need more, place your hands on the floor in front of you and begin to lean forward hinging from your waist. Walk your fingers out as far as you can until you feel the stretch. You should not feel any pain and you want to make sure you keep your knees straight. When stretching to each side, turn your torso to face your foot and hinge from your waist reaching for your foot. If you are not very flexible you can wrap a yoga strap or old men’s tie around your foot and hold onto that while leaning forward into the stretch.
How long: Hold each position for 15 seconds before moving on to the next step. Repeat the stretch 3 times through.
Disclaimer: this post does not claim to cure any medical issues you may be having. Please speak with your healthcare professional before embarking on any fitness routine.
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30 Days of Stretching – Day 19

Neck Stretch 


Muscles stretched: neck
How to: Everyone can benefit from this stretch! Especially if you spend tons of time looking down at a smart phone, iPad, tablet, laptop, kindle, etc. This one might be good to do every couple of hours throughout the day. This stretch can be done seated or while standing. Simply follow steps A though F making sure you keep good posture throughout and keeping your shoulders relaxed. Begin by dropping your chin to you chest, then look up tilting your head back. Next, look left and hold then look right and hold. Finally tilt your head to the left brining your ear down towards your shoulder (don’t bring your shoulder up to meet your ear) then tilt the head to the right towards the right shoulder and hold.
How long: Hold each position for about 5 seconds before moving on to the next step. Repeat the stretch 3 times through.
Disclaimer: this post does not claim to cure any medical issues you may be having. Please speak with your healthcare professional before embarking on any fitness routine.
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30 Days of Stretching – Day 18

Hip Flexor Stretch 

Muscles stretched: hip flexor
How to: If you have a job where you sit for long periods of time this is a great stretch to do to stretch and lengthen your hip flexors. Beginning on your knees bring your right foot out in front of you making sure your knee remains over your ankle. Place your hands on your right knee and shift your weight forward into your front foot (if your knee tracks over your toe or your heel comes up off the floor move your foot out a little farther.) Keeping your back straight, push your left hip forward (this is where you should feel the stretch.)
How long: Hold this stretch for 15 seconds on each side. Repeat the stretch 3 times.
Disclaimer: this post does not claim to cure any medical issues you may be having. Please speak with your healthcare professional before embarking on any fitness routine.
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30 Days of Stretching – Day 17

Cobra Stretch 

Muscles stretched: back, abdominals
How to: I have broken up this stretch into 3 options. For some all 3 options may be great, while for others you may only be able to achieve option “A” or “B.” Begin by laying prone (face down) with your hands placed under your shoulders and your legs and feet together. Ideally you want your legs and feet to touch, but if they don’t its ok, you can still benefit from this stretch. Once in position slowly begin to lift your chest off the floor pressing the tops of your feet and palms into the ground. (Be sure your shoulders and traps are pushed down and away from your ears and your head is in a neutral position and not looking up.) Whether you are able to do option “A”, “B”, or “C” move slowly into the position and remember to breathe and not hold your breath. After completing this stretch it’s nice to rest in child’s pose before repeating this stretch again.
How long: Hold this stretch for 15 seconds and close your eyes if you want to focusing on your breathing. Repeat the stretch 3 times.
Disclaimer: this post does not claim to cure any medical issues you may be having. Please speak with your healthcare professional before embarking on any fitness routine.
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