10 Stretches Not to Skip In Your Workout Routine

Stretching can be the most overlooked and/or skipped part of any exercise routine because it may not seem important. However, you can add many health benefits to your workout program just by implementing these 10 simple stretches at the end of your workouts. A few of these benefits include an increase in flexibility and range of motion (ROM) in joints, a decrease in pain and tightness in specific areas and an improvement in overall posture. The 10 stretches are as followed:

1. Lateral Neck Stretch:

    1. How to Perform:
      1. This stretch can be done seated or standing. Keeping your chest up and back straight, in good posture, tilt the head to the LEFT, lower your LEFT ear to your LEFT shoulder. While doing this, focus on keeping your RIGHT shoulder depressed. Complete stretch on both sides.
    2. Muscles Targeted:
      1. Levator Scapulae
      2. Sternocleidomastoideus
      3. Trapezius
      4. Scalenus Medius
    3. Benefits of the Lateral Neck Stretch:
      1. Can help relieve headaches
      2. Reduce pressure and stress on cervical (upper) spine and its vertebrae
      3. Increase range of motion and flexibility of the cervical spine

2. Lateral Side Stretch:

    1. How to Perform:
      1. This stretch can be done seated or standing. Keeping your chest up and back straight, in good posture, tilt your body at the waist to the LEFT, lowering your LEFT hand to the ground. At the same time, lift your RIGHT hand vertically over your head and reach to the sky. Complete Stretch on both sides.
    2. Muscles Targeted:
      1. External Oblique
      2. Quadratus Lumborum
      3. Internal Oblique
      4. Latissimus Dorsi
    3. Benefits of the Lateral Side Stretch:
      1. Reduces tightness and can relieve pain in lower back
      2. Relieves pressure on vertebrae of the lumbar (lower) and thoracic (middle) spine
      3. Increase range of motion and flexibility of thoracic and lumbar spine

3. Seated Double Hamstring Stretch:

    1. How to Perform:
      1. Sitting with both feet stretched out in front of you, hinge at the hips while keeping your back in a neutral position. Extend your arms out toward your toes.
    2. Muscles Targeted:
      1. Hamstring (Semitendinosus, Semimembranosus, and Biceps Femoris)
      2. Calf (Soleus and Gastrocnemius)
    3. Benefits of the Seated Double Hamstring Stretch:
      1. Reduces tightness in calf muscles, hamstrings, and lower back
      2. Increases range of motion and flexibility in the pelvis
      3. Improves overall posture

4. Side Lying Quad Stretch:

    1. How to Perform:
      1. Lying on one side of your body, keep everything in a straight line. Bend the knee of the top leg bringing your foot to the back of the body. Reach back with the same side arm and grab your foot.
    2. Muscles Targeted:
      1. Quad Muscles (Rectus Fermoris, Vastus Medialis, Vastus Intermedius, and Vastus Lateralis)
    3. Benefits of the Side Lying Quad Stretch:
      1. Increased range of motion in hip and knee
      2. Release tension on Patellar Tendon and Knee Cap

5. Cobra Stretch:

    1. How to Perform
      1. Begin by lying flat on your stomach with your palms flat on the floor in a push-up position. Extend at the hips by pushing up with your arms, raising your upper body off the ground until your arms are fully extended. Tilt your head back and look up towards the ceiling.
    2. Muscles Targeted:
      1. Chest muscles (Pectoralis Major and Minor)
      2. Abdominal Muscles and Obliques
      3. The Diaphragm
    3. Benefits of the Cobra Stretch:
      1. Great way to open up the Diaphragm, making breathing easier
      2. Releases tension or soreness in the chest
      3. Loosens up the abdominal muscles and can decrease soreness
      4. Strengthens the wrists, arms, and back

6. Downward Dog:

    1. How to Perform:
      1. Lying flat on your stomach in the push-up position, using your arm and legs, lift your butt up in the air as high as possible, keeping your legs and arms straight. Focusing on keeping your feet flat on the floor.
    2. Muscles Targeted:
      1. Calf Muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus)
      2. Hamstrings (Semitendinosus, Semimembranosus, and Biceps Femoris)
      3. Lower Back (Quadratus Lumborum)
      4. Upper Back Muscles (Latissimus Dorsi, Rhomboids, and Trapezius)
    3. Benefits of Downward Dog:
      1. Releases tightness and tension in the posterior chain of the legs (hamstrings and calves)
      2. Decreases pain and tightness in low back and buttock
      3. Increases range of motion in knees, ankles, hips, and lower back
      4. Stretches muscles of the upper back
      5. Strengthens wrists, arms and shoulders

7. Wide-Legged Forward Bend:

    1. How to Perform:
      1. Standing up with your feet spread apart. Bending at the hips, reach down to the floor with your hands directly beneath you.
    2. Muscles Targeted:
      1. Hip Flexors (Iliospoas and Iliacis)
      2. Groin
      3. Hamstrings (Semitendinosus, Semimembranosus, and Biceps Femoris)
      4. Quads(Rectus Fermoris, Vastus Medialis, Vastus Intermedius, and Vastus Lateralis)
    3. Benefits of the Wide-Legged Forward Bend:
      1. Increases range of motion in the hips
      2. Releases tightness in groin and hip flexors
      3. Decreases pain and tightness in the lower back

8. Standing Chest Pull:

    1. How to Perform:
      1. Standing perpendicular to a wall, reach behind you with the hand closest to the wall. Turn your body away from the wall, feeling a slight pull in your chest and shoulder. Perform on both sides.
    2. Muscles Targeted:
      1. Chest muscles (Pectoralis Major and Minor)
      2. Anterior Deltoid
      3. Rotator Cuff
    3. Benefits of the Standing Chest Pull
      1. Releases anterior pull on shoulder
      2. Increases range of motion of shoulder
      3. Decrease tightness and tension in chest, shoulder, and bicep

9. Arm Across Chest:

    1. How to Perform:
      1. Standing upright, pull one arm across the chest, wrapping the other arm around it. Using the off hand, pull on the arm and shoulder being stretched.
    2. Muscles Targeted:
      1. Triceps
      2. Muscles/tendons/ligaments of the shoulder (anterior, medial, and posterior deltoids)
    3. Benefits of the Arm Across Chest Stretch:
      1. Increases range of motion in the shoulder
      2. Loosens tendons and ligaments in shoulder
      3. Relieves tightness and soreness in the triceps

10. Kneeling Forearm and Wrist Stretch:

    1. How to Perform:
      1. Kneeling with your palms flat on the ground and your fingers pointed toward your body, keep your elbows almost straight, shift your weight backwards, putting pressure on the wrists.
      2. Flip hands over to the back of the hands, performing the same as before.
    2. Muscles Targeted:
      1. Muscles of forearms and wrists
    3. Benefits of the Kneeling Forearm and Wrist Stretch:
      1. This is a good way to improve range of motion in finger joints, as well as the wrist.

Children and Healthy Behaviors

Many things come to mind when pondering the topic “healthy”. I am a kindergarten teacher for Akron Public Schools in Akron, OH and this is something that is vital for me as an educator of young children to master. Most people think of food when they think of the word healthy. And in a way, they are correct! The foods we eat help us with the way we think and provides us with the energy we need for everyday tasks like school, recess, and evening activities! The amount of physical activity and the amount of rest we get each day takes a huge role in becoming and maintaining a healthy, well-rounded human being.

In my perspective as a teacher of young minds, the students do, as I do. They are very observant to the environment around them. That is why it is so important to MODEL. Children mimic all behaviors that they see. This can be positive and negative. In my classroom, we have many “brain breaks” throughout the day. These consist of a program called Go Noodle, a healthy snack, and some kind of hands on manipulative with no direct instruction. These help the child give their brain that enrichment that they need by doing it in their own differentiated way to meet their needs. I also have had a Full Scale Fitness personal trainer from the Akron area come into my classroom to teach a lesson about being healthy and different ways to “make the heart happy”. This was a great success for my students and they continued to refer back to him during health discussions for the remainder of the school year.

BE A ROLE MODEL

Children watch and imitate adults and look to them to learn everything from saying please and thank-you to fitness and nutrition behavior. Children can also pick up on their parent’s attitudes about food. As role models, parents need to make sure they’re demonstrating a healthy attitude toward food so their children do, too. This same thing can be applied to being active. In Akron, OH, there are vast amounts of opportunities for fitness for the whole family. Going to Cuyahoga Valley National Park for hiking, biking, or even just a simple nature walk is a great example. Parents can also look into personal training and dietitians to assist them with the confidence in being a good role model for their children. If you have any questions about healthy decisions or getting your child active, contact us and we would love to help! Email us at [email protected] or give us a call at (419) 906-0204.