Stretching Part Two: The perfect post workout stretching routine!
This may come as a surprise, but even though I know stretching is important, I find it hard to make myself do it. After a workout I just want to shower.
My solution: I developed two quick, yet effective stretching routines. In a previous blog I outlined my dynamic flexibility routine. Below I have detailed my favourite static stretches.
Do the dynamic stretches before you workout and static stretches afterward. Why? Dynamic mobility exercises involve motion, and therefore prime the body for motion. Static stretches are, well, static. Thus they cool down the nervous and muscular-skeletal systems.
Both routines take only five minutes. So, when I don't want to stretch I tell myself, "Anyone can do anything for five minutes! Kathleen, stop making excuses and just DO IT!"
(For a more detailed explanation of the difference between dynamic and static stretches read my previous blog).
My Static stretching Routine!
Hold each stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds. The intensity of a stretch should feel roughly like a four out of 10. Never stretch so far that you experience pain.
1. Seated figure-four stretch: While sitting, place your right ankle on top of your left knee. Push down gently on your right thigh until you feel a stretch in your bum. Switch sides and repeat.
2. Standing lunge hip-flexor stretch: Step your right leg behind you. Keep both feet facing forward and bend your knees slightly. Tuck your pelvis so your right hip bones move towards your ribs. Feel the stretch up the front of your right thigh. Hold for 30 seconds before switching legs.
3. Standing calf stretch: Stand on a step with the ball of your right foot on the edge. Let your right heel fall towards the ground. Hold for 30 seconds before switching legs.
4. Chest stretch: Bend your right arm to 90 degrees and place it against the edge of a door frame. Rotate your body to the left. Hold for 30 seconds before switching arms.
5. Hamstring stretch: Lie on your back. Grab the upper thigh of your right leg, straighten the leg and pull it up toward your chest. It is more important to keep the right leg straight than to bring it to the chest. Switch legs and repeat.
If one side of your body is noticeably less flexible, stretch the tight side first, then the looser side. Finish by stretching the tight side once more.
One parting thought, when you don't want to stretch, try negotiating with yourself. For example, when I want to skip my stretches I tell myself that I can only watch television if I stretch for the first ten minutes. Try it! Experiment. Find the negotiation strategy that works for you.