We all love exercising. But what we miss on is the necessity of doing warm up and stretching our body. When we are properly warmed up and done sufficient stretch, the chances of injury are reduced and the outcome gets better.
To physically and mentally prepare our body for exercise and decrease the probability of injury it is necessary to warm up. Warm up ensures that there is a gradual increase in the circulation around the body so that there is no pressure on the body. While doing warm up, it is possible to recognize any injury or illness that is present and thus it ensures that there is no further injury.
While performing warm up it can either be a combination of a number of rhythmic exercises or a slow aerobic activity. When we go for a jog we first start with a walk and gradually move to the pace of jogging, it is a prime example of warm up.
Our body takes the time to properly warm up. Warm up and stretching should be done for at least five minutes before work out. In winters, make sure that warm up time should be increased especially if there are exercises that need swift bursts of energy and activity.
Stretching helps in preventing injuries and boosting the athletic performance. Its main aim is to slowly and smoothly lengthen the muscles and enhance the elasticity and flexibility of the tissues before and after performing any kind of exercise.
Here are a few points to remember while stretching:
- Start with regular motion exercises of all joints, i.e. rotate the wrists, bend the arm and roll your shoulders clockwise and anti-clockwise.
- Always warm up before you stretch.
- If wet and sweaty, take a shower first, as hot water relaxes the muscles, and prevents from catching a chill.
- Never bounce, unless doing some sport-specific stretch, i.e. ballistic stretching for martial arts.
- Hold the stretch till the muscle loosens, repeat for another 15 seconds.
- While stretching some light pain should be felt, if not then maybe the stretch is being done incorrectly or the muscle has loosened. Immediately stop if it pains.
- Breathe rhythmically and do not hold breath.
Here, we have listed a few exercises you can use to stretch your body before you start your workout regime.
Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and one in front of the other. Your front leg should be bent and back straight. Now put pressure on the heel of the leg at the back till you feel a stretch in the calf muscle of your lower leg. In case you feel no stretch, move your heel a little back slowly while the foot remains on the floor. Hold the posture for 20 to 30 seconds. Try pushing against the wall for a greater stretch and better stability. Now repeat while alternating the leg.
Stand straight and put your hands at the small of the back. Now, in a slow motion move your elbows to the inside such that there is a stretch is felt in the chest. Try to position the elbows high while stretching. Keep your breathing normal throughout the warm up. Hold the posture for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat.
Wrists and Arms
This stretch is perfect for the shoulders, arms, and wrist. Interlock your fingers above the head with facing your palms upwards. Push the arms a little to the back and up without arching your back. Keep breathing normally. Hold the posture for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat.
Put your arms against the wall while keeping them straight and palms towards the wall. Gradually turn the body away from the wall while keeping the arm on the wall. Hold the posture for 20 to 30 seconds. This is an excellent stretch for muscles of biceps and chest.
Keep your back straight and stand tall or sit down. Position your one arm behind the head with the hand towards the spine and facing down. Use the other hand to push the elbow joint downwards such that there is an increase in the stretch on the triceps. Hold the posture for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat.
Deltoids Shoulder Stretch
This stretch can be done both while sitting or standing. Position one arm crossways the front of the body and use the other arm to stretch. Push the arm towards the chest from the side of the elbow joint. Do not bend the arm and keep breathing comfortably. Hold the posture for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat with the alternate arm.
Position the feet shoulder-width apart and keep your legs slightly bend. Now, in a slow motion bend to one sided till a stretch is felt on the side. Position the arms in the air to increase the stretch. Do not lean to the front or back while keeping the movement smooth. Hold the posture for 20 to 30 seconds.
Position one leg in the front with the knee above the toe and stretch the other leg back such that the knee touches the floor. For a better balance place your arms on the front leg or the floor. Now, slowly push your pelvis to the front to stretch the upper thigh of the leg at the back. Hold the posture for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat with the alternate leg.
Position yourself on all fours while looking at the floor and push the shoulders upwards (as high as possible). Hold the pose for 10 seconds and repeat.
Sit on the floor placing your soles together and hand around the ankles or lower leg (whatever is comfortable). Slowly move the knees in the outward direction towards the floor while keeping the back straight. To put a greater stretch, place your elbows against your inner knee. Hold the posture for 20 to 30 seconds.
Sit with the left leg straight in the front and cross it with the right leg over the knee while putting the foot flat on the floor. Now use your left arm to pull the right leg across yourself till you feel the stretch in the buttock area. Hold the posture for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat with the alternate leg and arm.
Lie on the back and bend your legs towards yourself. Lower the knees to one side while keeping the upper back firm on the floor. Hold the posture for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat on the other side. Let the lower back move naturally as you turn to the sides.
This stretch can be done both while sitting or standing. Use the wall or a chair as support if performing this stretch while standing. Grab the ankle of your leg and pull the heel towards the bottom while putting pressure on the quadricep muscles. In case, you cannot reach your ankles, wrap a towel around it and pull while holding onto the towel. Increase the stretch by pushing the hips towards the front. Hold the posture for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat.
Lie on the back and bend one leg while keeping the foot on the floor. This will prevent the buttocks to rise during the stretch. Now, raise your other leg while holding onto the knee sides to slowly pull the leg toward yourself. It will stretch your hamstring muscles at the back of the leg. Make sure that the buttocks keep touching the floor and the leg should be as straight as possible. Hold the posture for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat.