Our next installment of Trainer Tidbits is brought to you by new FitRec Personal Trainer, Andrea Grimes.  Andrea knows the importance of stretching after a workout and wants to share some of her knowledge.  Check out her information below to help improve your flexibility and reduce your chance of injury with post-workout stretching.

Are you stretching after your strength and cardiovascular training? Stretching is perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects of exercise. A few benefits of stretching include:  increased flexibility, improved range of motion and reduction of lactic acid. Not sure where to begin? It’s ok! I have a few to show you!

Melting Heart Pose – Reps: Hold for 30 seconds

Benefits:

  • Counteracts the rounding of the spine
  • Increases shoulder mobility
  • Stimulates the stomach and spleen meridians (also known as “Qi”) in the chest
  • Stimulates the lung and heart meridians (“Qi”)

Getting into the Stretch:

  1. From all fours, knees a little wider than hip distance apart, lower down onto your elbows.
  2. Keep your hips in line with your knees, straighten your arms in front of you, one after the other.
  3. Place your chin or forehead on the floor, allowing yourself to soften the pose.

If you feel pressure on top of your shoulders, bend your elbows, spread them to the sides and place your forehead on your hands.

Ragdoll – Reps: Hold for 30 seconds

Benefits:

  • Releases tension in the lower back
  • Relaxes muscles in the neck and shoulders
  • Lengthens the spine
  • Stretch the hamstrings and calves

Getting into the Stretch:

  1. Begin with the feet hip-width apart and the knee flexed. Bend forward from the hips allowing the head to hang down between the upper arms.
  2. Cross the arms and softly grasp each elbow with the opposite hand. Release the back by gently sway from side to side. If available, bring hands to the mat to feel a deeper stretch.

 

Cat/Cow Pose – Reps: Perform 5 – 20 times

Benefits:

  • Stretches Spine, back and abdomen muscles – also relieves lower back pain
  • Opens up lungs and chest

Getting into the Stretch:

  1. Start on your hand and knees with your wrists directly under your shoulders, and your knees directly under your hips.
  2. Begin by moving into Cow Pose: Inhale as you drop your belly towards the mat. Lift your chin and chest, and gaze up to the ceiling. Draw your shoulders away from your ears.
  3. Next move into Cat Pose: As you exhale, draw your belly to your spine and round your back toward the ceiling, and drop your head towards the floor. The pose should look like a cat stretching its back
  4. Inhale, coming into Cow Pose, and then exhale as you return to Cat Pose.

 

Lizard Pose – Reps: Hold for 30 seconds on both sides

Benefits: Great stretch for the hip flexors, hamstrings, and the quadriceps while also strengthening the muscles.

Getting into the Stretch:

  1. Begin in Downward-Facing Dog or table top. Exhale, step your right foot forward to the outside edge of your right hand (pinky finger). Both arms should be to the left of the right leg.
  2. Lower your left knee down to the ground and double check to make sure that your right knee isn’t moving past the right ankle. Sink your weight down into your hips, and lower forearms to the mat. Keep the chin lifted and the chest open.

 

Pidgeon Pose – Reps: 5 – 30 seconds on each side

Benefits: Increases external range of motion of femur in hip socket and lengthens hip flexors

Getting into the Stretch:

  1. From all fours, bring your right knee forward towards your right wrist. Experimenting with what feels right to you. You want to feel a stretch on your outer hip without any discomfort.
  2. Slide your left leg and point your toes. Begin to draw your inner thighs in towards each other.
  3. Inhale, and come onto your fingertips, lengthen your spine and draw your navel in and open your chest
  4. As you exhale, walk your hands forward and lower your upper body towards the floor. You can rest your forearms and forehead on the mat.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Stretching

Follow these do’s and don’ts to get the most out of your stretching:

DO use static stretching to maintain flexibility, but do it after your workout, not before.

DO stretch if you have poor posture.

DO stretch the spinal column between sets of compressive exercises such as squats and overhead presses.

DON’T hold an intense stretch for longer than 15 seconds.

DON’T stretch first thing in the morning, especially if you have a lower back injury. Wait at least one hour after awakening

DON’T hold your breath during a stretch, as this will tense your muscles. Instead, relax by exhaling longer than inhaling.