Though often overlooked, stretching exercises for flexibility are useful for both injury prevention and treatment, resulting due to any physical activity. Stretching basically helps in keeping the muscles and joints strong and flexible, hence making them less vulnerable to any kind of injury. In other words, stretching exercises increase muscle flexibility and improve range of motion of joints which directly translates into reduced risk of injury. Moreover, these exercises increase blood flow to the muscles which in turn causes speedy recovery after any muscle injury. Slow, deliberate stretches performed regularly also benefit in relieving and managing stress. After knowing these benefits, now let us move on to some simple stretching exercises to increase flexibility.
Upper Body Stretching Exercises
Stand straight, interlock your fingers and try to reach them above your head. Keep your lower back flat or slightly arched inwards. Hold for 5 - 10 seconds and repeat.
First drop your chin down to the chest and reach your right arm straight up over your head with palms facing forwards. Bend your elbow and take the right hand to the back of neck, with your palm facing in. Reach overhead with left arm and hold underneath the right elbow with your left hand, while slowly pulling the right arm to the left. You will feel a mild stretch in the back of the right upper arm. Hold for 5 - 10 seconds and repeat on other side. This exercise can be performed either sitting or standing.
Hold your hands behind your back, slowly stretch your elbows and raise your arms as high as possible. Hold for 5 - 10 seconds and repeat. This exercise can also be performed while sitting or standing.
Kneel on the ground with palms flat and your fingers pointing back toward your knees. Slowly lean backwards while keeping your palms flat on the ground. You will feel a mild stretch through the wrists and forearms. Hold for 5 - 10 seconds and repeat.
Lower Body Stretching Exercises
Lower Back/Buttocks Stretch
Lie on the ground with both knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Keeping your feet and knees together, try to lift your feet off the ground, while taking your hands behind your knees and pressing your knees into chest. Keep your back flat on the ground, and hold for 5 - 10 seconds and repeat.
Stand straight with your feet about 2 meters apart and toes pointing forwards. Slowly transfer all your weight to your right leg by bending your right knee. Keeping your left leg straight, place both your hands on the right knee for support and start increasing the distance between the feet for a longer stretch. Hold for 5 - 10 seconds and repeat.
Stand straight and hold on to a support like a chair or wall with one hand for balance. With your other hand hold your ankle and try to pull your heel into your butt. Hold for 5 - 10 seconds and repeat for the other leg.
Lie on the ground with your knees bent. Stretch one of your legs and slowly pull it towards you. Hold your thigh, calf or ankle and keep your knee slightly bent. Hold for 5 - 10 seconds and switch legs.
Inner Thigh Stretch
Sit on the ground with your feet pressed together. Keeping your abs in, lean forward until you feel a small, gentle stretch in your inner thighs.
Lie on your hands and knees, bring the left knee in and rest it on the ground between your hands. Stretch your right leg out behind you and, slowly bend forward while resting your forearms on the floor. Hold for 5 - 10 seconds and repeat.
While performing these warm up stretch exercises during your flexibility stretching program, avoid stretching to injured muscles, bones or joints and don't over stretch the muscles as this may result in sharp pain or discomfort. Correct and properly done stretching exercises for flexibility will surely make you feel comfortable and relieve your stress with absolutely no pain.