No matter the intensity of your workouts, it's important to stretch after a training session. Try this stretching routine to ease muscle soreness, release lactic acid, and prevent injuries. After all, your muscles deserve a little TLC after working so hard.
The following nine stretches are recommended by leading fitness trainers, Matt Dawson and Kisar Dhillon.
1. Shin/Tibialis Anterior Stretch
Stand tall and keep your feet hip-distance apart. Take one foot and move it 2 inches behind you. Place your weight on the front of your toes and feel the stretch in the shin. Hold for one minute and switch legs.
More: Shin Splints 101
2. Standing Forward Fold
Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Slowly roll your head down towards your feet and try to reach for your shins, toes or ground. Allow your neck to relax and hands dangle. You'll feel your hamstrings and lower back stretch. Hold for about 45 seconds to a minute.
More: Yoga Pose of the Month
3. Standing Hamstring Stretch
This is great for the calves and hamstrings. Start standing tall, feet hip-distance apart. Step the right foot out in front of you about 2 feet. Hinge at the hips and reach towards your toes. Bend your left leg slightly to help you reach forward. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute and then switch legs.
4. Figure Four Stretch
This is a great hip opener and IT band stretch. Start standing tall. Make sure to keep your core in and shoulders back. Lift your right knee up and place the right ankle on the left thigh. Begin to shift your weight back, slightly onto your heel. Once you feel stable, bend your standing leg and slowly lean forward. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute and then switch sides.
More: IT Band Exercises
5. Runner's Lunge
Start in a lunge position, front knee is bent over your ankle and back leg is straight back. Place both hands inside your foot; place your hands directly under the shoulders. Allow your knee to open up slightly as you lean forward. Hold for a minute and then switch legs.
More: Your Guide to Yoga
6. Pigeon Stretch
From runner's lunge position, lower your back leg to the ground and walk your front foot to the opposite shoulder, and then place your knee on the ground. Your front leg should look like the number seven. Flex your front foot so it stays in place. Take a peak at your back foot and make sure it's straight. Place your hands in front of you and slowly lean forward. Go as far as your body will let you and hold for 1 to 3 minutes on each side.
More: More on Pigeon Pose
7. Hurdler's Stretch
Start sitting in a "V" position; keep your back straight and your shoulders back. Take your right leg, bend it at the knee, and place the right foot close to the left inner thigh. Turn your shoulders to face the left leg and begin to hinge at the hips. Make sure your back is straight and try to reach for your toes. If you can't reach your toes, place your hands on your ankle or shin. Hold for a minute and then switch sides.
More: Stretching 101
8. Supine Twist
For an easy lower back stretch lay on the ground, facing up. Bring your arms out to a "T". Slowly move one leg across the body and guide your knee toward the ground. (It's okay if your knee doesn't completely reach the floor). Turn your head to face the opposite side and try to keep your shoulders on the ground. Hold for a minute and then switch sides.
More: Backbend Yoga Poses
9. Child's Pose
Kneel on the ground, keep your big toes together, sit down on your heels, and separate your knees about hip-width apart. Lower your torso between your legs and walk your hands out in front of you. Try to keep your glutes down; your goal is to get them touching your heels. Relax your forehead on the ground and just breathe. Hold for at least a minute.
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