If you exercise you can call yourself a fitness person and if you call yourself a fitness person you’ve probably experienced some sort of soreness or injury. While one is quite temporary, both can be somewhat debilitating and the later can completely derail your fitness efforts–not cool. One easy way to speed up recovery time and help prevent injury? Stretching. Sure, it’s time-consuming and the results aren’t always inherently noticeable, but trust me there are loads of benefits. It protects your muscles, cools your body down and increases flexibility. I visited Stretch Lab in Santa Monica for a 50 min one-on-one stretching session to chat about the most important stretches for those who like me, like a long work out and a short stretching session. Here are four stretches that will keep you moving.
1. Quad Stretch
From standing or laying on one side, bring one heel toward your rear-end. Always ensure that your knees stay close together to make sure that the stretch is done safely and properly. Great for runners, yogis, and cyclists, it will help to improve flexibility and is great both before and after your workout.
2. Figure 4
Start by laying down or standing up. Bend one leg and cross that calf over the opposite straight leg at the thigh (creating a 4) and slowly bring the straight leg toward chest (or chest to the legs if standing). If you’re ready to go beyond this try a pigeon pose variation for a deeper stretch. This stretch is a great hip opener and gently stretches the lower back and glutes.
3. Runners Lunge with a Twist:
I don’t want to complicate things, but a little twist after runner’s lunge is the total body stretch we all need. Get into runner’s lunge and come up on to your hands if you do yours down on your forearms (which, go you!) Taking the arm on the same side as the bent leg up to the sky while turning your torso to the same side. Keep the opposite hand grounded and then switch. This stretch benefits the whole body as well as strengthens your stability.
4. Side Lunge
From a standing position, separate legs slightly more than hip distance and bend one leg allowing your torso to lean to that side never putting weight directly on the bent knee. It’s a great lower body exercise and you’ll love how it strengthens and tones both your inner and outer thighs!