For many of us, our muscle soreness and limited mobility are a byproduct of our work and home environments. Spending most of our days sitting hunched over at a desk restricts our bodies from the movement we so strongly require. I personally use this routine before jumping on my treadmill or prior to my regular bodyweight workout.
A simple, yet essential method to combat this is to adopt a stretching routine into our everyday lives and when creating workout plan.
Committing to a consistent stretching routine will improve your joint range of motion, keeping your muscles flexible, healthy, and strong. The purpose of this home stretching program is not only to enhance your mobility but to reduce your risk of injury or pain over the long-term!
Benefits of Stretching
Oftentimes undervalued, a proper stretching routine can improve many components of our overall health. Here are some of the key benefits:
- Stretching enhances range of motion (preventing any loss of motion that comes with prolonged joint immobility)
- Stretching tight muscles helps to prevent injury by enhancing muscular function
- Improving joint mobilization can reduce muscle soreness
- Helping with exercise progression, for example trying to progress your dips or finally get that first muscle up in pull up progression.
- Stretching decreases back pain and improves posture
- Stretching improves blood flow and circulation
- Studies show that stretching routine in also beneficial during strength training.
Home Stretching Routine
While the benefits of stretching for people of all ages are supported, controversy remains about the best type of stretching. We will focus on both static and dynamic stretching for this program as they both play a part in mobility, injury prevention, and healthy muscle recovery.
Part 1: Static Stretching Routine
Static stretching is the more well-known method. It involves stretching a muscle close to its furthest point of length and holding it into position. It functions to lengthen your muscles and improve overall joint range of motion and flexibility.
Research finds the greatest change in range of motion to occur anywhere between 15-30 seconds. It’s best to incorporate this style of stretching either on its own (when your muscles are warm) or as a cool-down following your strength or cardiovascular exercises.
1. Open the Chest (chest, shoulders, and biceps)
From a standing position, feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, clasp your hands together behind your back allowing your chest to open up. Keeping your elbows extended behind your body, move your head up and down alternative your gaze from the roof to the floor.
2. Quadriceps Stretch (quadriceps and hip flexors)
From a standing position, bend your right leg back and reach back with your right hand to hold onto your leg just above the ankle. Keeping your knees together to start, you can advance this position by pulling your right leg slightly back while keeping your hips extended and chest up.
3. Touch your Toes (glutes and hamstrings)
From a standing position, feet slightly wider shoulder-width apart, bend your body over at your hips keeping your knees straight. If you can’t touch your toes, allow gravity to pull your body into the stretch as far as comfortable.
4. Toe to the Sky (hamstrings and inner thighs)
From a standing position, squat down to the floor and extend your right leg out to the side with your heel on the floor and your toe pointing up to the ceiling. Keeping your chest up, you can hold onto a chair for support while you sit deeper into this stretch.
You can modify this stretch by sitting on the floor with one leg extended and the other leg bent, placing your foot against your inner thigh. Reach both of your arms towards your extended leg by bending at your hips.
5. The Pigeon Stretch (hip flexors)
From a seated position, bend your right leg in front of your body with your left leg extended back behind you. Hold your body up by placing your hands slightly in front of your bent knee.
You have the choice to stay in this position for 15-30 seconds or to advance one step further by lowering your body onto your forearms for support. Hold this stretch and do the same on the other side.
6. Full Body Twist (lower back and outer thighs)
Laying down on your back with both legs extended on the floor, extend your arms out wide so your body makes a T position. Bend your right knee, placing your right foot onto the floor. Tilt your hips to the left allowing your right knee to lean across your left leg.
As your right knee faces the left side of the room, your body will want to shift over with it. Counteract this movement by putting weight on your right arm and face your head towards your right hand. Hold this stretch for 15-30 seconds before switching to the other side.
7. Calf Stretch (calves)
Your calves have two major muscle groups which can be individually targeted simply by changing from a bent knee to a straight knee position.
Straight knee position: From a standing position, find a wall to lean your foot against. Pull your toes up towards the sky and press your body up against the wall. For a deeper stretch, move your hips up towards the wall without bending your leg.
Bent knee position: From a seated position, place both heels onto the floor in front of you, bending both of your knees. Grab the sides of your feet with both hands and pull your toes towards your face until you feel the stretch on the back of your lower legs.
8. The Cobra (abdominal muscles)
Laying down on your stomach with your legs extended behind you, press your hands down onto the floor just below your shoulders and push up. Raise your chest off the floor by slowly extending your arms while keeping your hips pressed into the floor.
Over To You
There you have it, a complete list of 8 home stretches, convenient for you to do in the comfort of your own home which could server as a great addition to your home cardio exercises or any basic home workout routine. Whether you’re looking to improve your mobility, enhance your muscle function, or help control stress, this home stretching routine will have you covered.
What are your stretching goals this month?