It is important to follow a few precautions while stretching.
– A stretch should extend to a point where the stretch is slightly uncomfortable, never to pain.
– Hold a stretch, never bounce.
– Keep a stretch for a minimum of 10 seconds, preferably 30 seconds, and for overly tight muscles, 1-2 minutes.
– Slowly go in and out of the stretch, don’t jerk into a stretch.
Following these guidelines should lessen the chance of pulled and strained muscles.
Now, let’s do some stretching.
1. Take a comfortable stance with the knees bent and shoulder width apart. Relax through your entire body.
2. Take your left arm over your head and place your left hand over your right ear and gently pull your head to the left. Slowly pull your head down and forward, moving your hand to the back of your head, until your head faces downward. Switch hands and pull your head up and to the right, moving your hand to the left ear, until your head is tilted to the right. Slowly pull your head down and forward, moving your hand to the back of your head, until your head faces downward. Switch hands and pull your head up and to the left, moving your hand to the right ear, until your head is tilted
to the left.
3. Repeat step 2. without your hands.
4. Circle your shoulders twice clockwise and twice counterclockwise.
5. Windmill your arms twice clockwise and twice counterclockwise.
6. Clasp your hands behind your back and straighten them out. Slowly pull them up.
7. Place your hands above your head and against a wall. Lean forward, stretching your arms above your head. Remember to keep your back rounded.
8. Return to your stance with the knees bent and shoulder width apart. Place your right arm next to your right ear. Bend the elbow and place your left hand on top of the elbow. Pull the elbow slowly to the left. This stretches the back of the right arm (tricep). Repeat with your other arm.
9. Put your right arm across your body. Put the left hand behind the elbow and pull the elbow towards your left side. Keep the right shoulder down. This stretches the shoulder (deltoid). Repeat with your other arm.
10. Put your right arm in the air and bend to the left. This stretches your right side, so remember to lean from the waist and keep your hips level. Repeat with the left arm, leaning to the right.
11. Clasp your hands in front of you and raise them above your head, pushing them out. Lower them, pushing out. This stretches your upper back, so push forward with enough force to feel the stretch.
12. Lay on your stomach. Put your hands by your sides and push up, leaving your hips on the ground. Hold and lower your body to the ground. This will stretch your stomach. WARNING: Do not do this stretch if you have back problems. It compresses your lower back, which can cause damage if you have back problems.
13. Turn over to your back and pull your feet up. Turn your knees to the right and your shoulders to the left. Keep your back straight. this stretches the left side stomach muscles (obliques). Slowly bring the knees up and over to the left, reversing the stretch.
14. Straighten the legs and come to a sitting position. Lean over your legs, stretching out the lower back.
15. Roll over onto your stomach. Push up with your arms and place your right thigh on your chest, with your foot slightly in front of the knee. Push down with your hips. This stretches the front and back of the thighs.
16. Curl the left leg so that the left calf is near the left thigh. Adjust your left leg so that the left thigh is on the ground instead of the left knee. WARNING: The left knee must not be on the ground. This could cause knee damage. Slowly pull on the left foot with the right hand. This stretches the left thigh. Left go and bring the left foot back to the ground.
17. Repeat #15 and 16 with the other leg.
18. Sit up with your legs straight in front of you. Bend your left knee and put your left heel to the right of and pressed against your right buttock. Bend your right leg and place the right foot flat on the ground to the left of the left knee. Raise your left arm and twist your body to the right until your left armpit is directly over your right thigh. Turn your left forearm so that you can pass it through the triangle made by the bend in your right and your left armpit is almost resting on top of the right thigh. Reach behind you with your right arm until your right and left hands can grip each other. Turn your head so that you are looking over your right shoulder. Twist as far as possible.
19. Repeat the opposite way.
20. Sit up with your legs straight in front of you. Bend your left leg and place the sole of your left foot against the inside of the thigh of your right leg. Raise your arms over your head and bring them slowly down towards your right foot. Bend as low in the back as possible. Hold the position for 1 minute and return to a straight sitting position.
21. Repeat with the other leg.
22. Sit up with your legs straight in front of you. Grab the right toe with your right hand and pull it towards you. Repeat with the other foot.
23. Bring your feet together in front of you. Place them sole to sole as close to you as possible. Hold onto the ankles and push down on your knees with your elbows. Hold the position for 1 minute.