Stretching Routine

Stretching is an important part of recovery as it releases muscle tension, improves range of motion and prevents injury. You should make it a routine after every cardio and weights workout. Following a proper cool-down (5 minutes of light aerobic activity), your routine should include two stages:

1) Foam rolling

2) Stretching

1) Foam rolling: Foam rolling is a technique used to relieve muscle tension and release trigger points. Foam rollers are usually cylindrical and individuals can use them on various muscle groups as a self-massage. Foam rolling is usually done first as it relaxes the muscle before you stretch it. You can buy foam rollers at various sports and exercise stores or they're available at most gyms. However if you prefer to exercise at home then skip the foam rolling and go right into stretching after your 5-minute cool-down.

Quadriceps: Use your arms to pull yourself forward so you roll your quads over the foam roller. If you find a trigger point (tender area), hold yourself on that area for 30 seconds or until the pain decreases and then continue to roll.

Hamstrings: Use your arms to hold yourself up as you roll your hamstrings over the foam roller. If you find a trigger point (tender area), hold yourself on that area for 30 seconds or until the pain decreases and then continue to roll.

Calves: Use your arms to hold yourself up as you roll your calf muscles over the foam roller. If you find a trigger point (tender area), hold yourself on that area for 30 seconds or until the pain decreases and then continue to roll.

ITB: Use your arms to pull yourself so you roll your iliotibial band (ITB) over the foam roller. If you find a trigger point (tender area), hold yourself on that area for 30 seconds or until the pain decreases and then continue to roll.

Lats: Balance yourself on your latissimus dorsi muscle with your arm above your head. Use your legs to move your body up and down the foam roller. If you find a trigger point (tender area), hold yourself on that area for 30 seconds or until the pain decreases and then continue to roll.

Back: Face the ceiling and roll yourself up and down the foam roller to target your erector spine (back) muscles. If you find a trigger point (tender area), hold yourself on that area for 30 seconds or until the pain decreases and then continue to roll.

 

2) Stretching: Perform these classic stretches to improve your muscle elasticity, relieve muscle tension and and prevent injury. You should stretch the muscle until you feel a noticeable pull but not to the point of pain. Stretches should be held for 30-60 seconds.

Quadriceps: 1) Balance on one leg and bend the other leg to bring your foot towards your butt. 2) Grab your ankle or foot to hold this position and gently tug on your ankle to deepen the stretch.

ITB: 1) While standing, cross one leg over the other. 2) Bend sideways at your hips to stretch the side of your back leg.

Hamstrings: 1) Sit up straight with legs straight out in front of you. 2) Lean body forward until you feel a stretch in the back of your legs (can either keep your back straight or curl your back and head forward). *Can also perform this stretch one leg at a time (shown in bottom picture).

Calf stretch: 1) Face a wall or door and stretch your arms out in front of you so your palms are flat against the wall. 2) With both feet facing the wall, stagger your legs so one is further away from the wall (this is your stretching leg). 3) Keep the heel of your foot on the floor as you bring your hips forward and lean towards the wall (should feel stretch in calf). *Bend your back knee to target your soleus muscle as opposed to your gastrocnemius muscle (shown in the right picture).

Adductors: 1) While seated, bring the soles of your feet together to stretch your adductor (groin) muscles. 2) To deepen the stretch, can use elbows or hands to push your knees towards the floor.

Glutes: Stretch 1: Sit up straight with legs outstretched in front of you. 2) Bend one leg to bring thigh close to body. 3) Cross foot over your other leg. 4) Hug your leg to stretch your gluteal muscles. *Instead of hugging leg can twist your body so your opposite elbow is pushing against the knee of your bent leg (right picture).

Stretch 2: 1) Lie on the floor facing the ceiling with legs straight and arms stretched out to side. 2) Keeping your back flat on the ground, twist lower body so one leg is crossed over the other leg. 3) To deepen the stretch, can put hand on top leg to pull your knee closer to the ground. *Can keep your leg bent at 90 degrees (left picture) or straighten your leg (right picture).

Stretch 3: 1) Lie on the floor facing the ceiling with knees bent so feet are flat on floor. 2) Bring one foot off the ground and cross leg so ankle is resting above knee of other leg. 3) Grab below knee of your bottom leg and pull your knee towards you.

Hip flexors: 1) Kneel on one knee with your other leg bent at 90 degrees. 2) Push your hips forward until you start to feel a stretch in the front of the upper thigh of your back leg. 3) For a deeper stretch, lift the arm on the same side as your stretched leg straight into the air.

Triceps: 1) Stand normally. 2) Lift your left arm and bend your elbow so your palm is flat against your upper back (as if you're going to scratch your back). 3) Bring your right hand to your left elbow and pull on your elbow to try and bring your left hand further down your back (should feel stretch in triceps muscle of left arm).

Pecs: 1) Stand facing a wall with one arm raised at a 90 degree angle against the wall. 2) While keeping your arm flat against wall, slowly turn the rest of your body away from the wall (should feel stretch in pectorals (chest) muscles). *To incorporate a biceps stretch into the pec stretch, place your arm straight out behind you instead of at 90 degrees (upper right). You can rotate your arm to target different parts of the muscle (bottom left and right).

Traps: 1) Stand normally. 2) With one arm, grab the side of your head and pull it towards the floor while keeping the rest of your body still (should feel stretch in the side of your neck).. 

Lats: 1) Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart. 2) Bend sideways at your hips, bringing your one hand towards your knee and reach your other arm over your head (should feel stretch in your latissimus dorsi and oblique abdominal muscles).

Rhomboids: 1) Stand normally. 2) With your palms facing up, cross one arm over the other and then bend elbows (clasp hands together). 3) Keeping elbows crossed, slowly lift your arms towards the ceiling to stretch rhomboid muscles (in between shoulder blades).

Forearms: 1) Stand normally. 2) With arm outstretched in front of you, use the other hand to pull fingers towards you. *With hand facing up, stretches flexor digitorum muscles, with hand facing down, stretches extensor digitorum muscles.

Deltoids: 1) Stand normally. 2) Cross one arm over chest (keeping it straight). 3) Bend the other arm to cradle the straight arm and pull gently towards your body (should feel stretch in deltoid muscle (upper arm).

Core: 1) Lie on the ground facing the floor with elbows bent and hands flat on the ground beside your armpits. 2) Slowly straighten arms to lift your upper body while keeping your legs on the floor (should feel stretch in abdominal muscles). *If you aren't flexible enough to straighten arms, can place elbows on the ground instead (bottom picture).

Now your muscles are nice and loose, and ready for your next workout!