You know the importance of consistent cardiovascular exercise and strength training to your overall health, but did you know that flexibility training is just as essential to a strong body? Stretching the muscles regularly will not only work to prevent injuries, but it also will increase your range of motion, improve your circulation, and strengthen your joints. Learn more about the benefits of stretching here and give these Total Body Exercises for Increased Flexibility a try.
Before stretching, loosen muscles with a light warm-up, or with your regular cardiovascular workout. Hold each stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds, but no longer than 2 minutes.
1. Shoulder Stretch- Take the right arm across the chest and curl your left arm around your elbow. Gently pull on the elbow to increase the stretch to the shoulder. Switch arms.
2. Triceps Stretch- Extend the right arm over the head and bend the elbow. Use the left arm to gently pull the right elbow in farther, until you feel the stretch along the back of your arm. Switch arms.
3. Biceps Stretch- Extend your arms out to your sides with your thumbs facing up. Slowly rotate the arms forward, so that the thumbs are facing down and back.
4. Side Stretch- Extend your arms over your head, and clasp your hands. With the elbows straight, lean to your right until you feel the stretch along your left side. Repeat with the other side.
5. Chest and Shoulder Stretch- Clasp your hands behind your back, with your elbows straight. Slowly lift your arms until you feel a slight pull in your shoulders and across your chest.
6. Upper Back Stretch- Sitting down, extend your arms out in front of you, and clasp your hands. Round your back, and press your arms away from your body.
7. Hamstring Stretch- While standing, put the left foot forward with the toe pointing up and the heel on the floor. Slowly bend forward from the hip until you feel the stretch along the back of the leg. Switch legs.
8. Quad Stretch- Stand and hold onto a wall or chair for balance, if needed. Bend the right leg, and hold onto the right foot with the right arm. Your right knee should be pointing toward the floor. Gently pull back on the foot for a deeper stretch. Switch legs.
For a deeper stretch, try Power Yoga!