Learning To Stretch Your Body

Whether you are doing a warm-up stretch or a cool-down stretch, the stretches will basically be the same.
You want to make sure you are stretching your whole body even if you are just working your legs or just your arms. You might indirectly work other parts of your body without even knowing it. You also want to make sure you stretch period because it might be tempting to skip the stretch and just hop on a machine. Your muscles need to be prepped up or else you may be sore the next day or the day after that. Here are some stretching suggestions:

Side Bends
Starting position. Stand with your feet apart, right arm above your head next to your ear and the left arm at your side. Bend to the left, sliding your left arm down your left, right arm by your ear. Feel the pull on your right side as you do this. Repeat this action to the right side, sliding your right arm down your left leg, left arm by your ear. Fell the pull on your left side.
Repetitions: Do this slowly, twice on each side several times.

Leg Stretch
Starting position. Sit with the bottom of your feet touching each other.
Grasp your ankles and try to push your knees to the floor. You can lean over.
Repetitions: Repeat this several times.

Leg and Trunk Stretch
Starting position. Sit on the floor with your feet out in front of you.
Slowly grasp as far down your legs as you can with your hands and pull your upper body down, trying to touch your stomach to your thighs (top of head toward feet, keeping legs straight).
When you get as far as you can, hold that position for a count of ten.
Repetitions: Repeat this several times, going further each time. Remember to use a slow steady pull. Do not bounce.

Calf Stretch
Starting position. Stand facing a wall (about two feet away) with your hands against it.
Keeping your body straight with heels on the floor, lean to the wall. Your heels should remain flat on the floor.
Repetitions: Hold this position for several second, rest, and repeat. If you do this easily, move farther away from the wall.

Head Roll
Starting position. Sitting comfortably, concentrate on relaxing your shoulders.
Roll your head to the right a few times and to the left a few times. This should be done slowly.

Back Reach
Stand comfortably.
Grasp both hands behind your back.
Keeping your arms straight, bend over and try to put your hands over your head.
Go as far as you can, hold that position; then rest.
Repetitions: Repeat periodically throughout your exercise period.

Thigh Stretch
Starting position. Grasp with foot behind you. (You may want to hold on to a chair or wall balance.)
Try to touch your heel to your buttocks.
Pull back so that you feel the pull on the front of your thigh. Keep lower back straight. That is, don't arch your lower back.
Repetitions: Repeat this several times on each leg.

Back Clasp
Starting Position. Sit or stand.
Put your right hand over your right shoulder and your let hand under your left arm--that is, behind you. Try to grasp hands. If your hands don't quite reach each other, use a book, towel, or other object to clasp onto.
Try this on both sides.
Repetitions: This should be executed several times, a few times throughout your workout if you desire.
By Prerna Salla
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