At the end of the workout you rush and go about your business, so in most cases there is no stretching whatsoever. But it is not rocket science and it doesn’t take a long time to do the basic stretching exercises.
The most important rules of stretching
It’s great if you stretch, but you should definitely keep some basic rules to avoid possible injuries.
- Never stretched a cold muscle! It means you should only stretch muscles that were worked and warmed up beforehand. Otherwise you can easily get injured, not to mention its ineffectiveness.
- Don’t do static stretches (when you hold the stretched position for a longer time) before training with weights. Stretching is a kind of muscle work. If you do hard stretching before training with weights your training performance can deteriorate. However, you can and you are advised to do dynamic stretches (this is the kind of bouncing stretching when you don’t hold the stretched positions for a long time).
- Between the sets don’t do any static stretches. It’s for the same reason as described in the previous point, but because it specifically helps muscle contractions you should do some dynamic stretches between the sets (this way the muscles that are stretched in advance can contract harder during the weight lifting).
You should time static stretches for the end of your workout when your muscles are already warmed up. In addition, in the long term it helps to shape your muscles that become tight during exercise, not to mention the improvement of mobility and the reduced risk of injuries.
The five most important stretching exercises
Let’s see the five most important and most basic stretching exercises that help you stretch your main muscle groups at the end of your workout.
- Pectoral muscles
Put your hand on any vertical rod, column in a way that your palm faces forward. By rotating and twisting your body start stretching your breast muscles. Keep the position for a few seconds then relax, but not fully. Repeat the stretching, this time harder than before. Repeat 3-4 times per side. This exercise will stretch your biceps and the front part of your shoulder muscles, too.
- Back muscles
Take a rod and hold it horizontally, at shoulder’s width in front of you. Try to ‘pull’ the rod by pressing your hip backwards and allow your back muscles to stretch. Start lifting your hips, hunching with your back while holding the ‘pull’ unchanged. This way you can stretch the back muscles and the trapezius muscle, too. Lift and sink your hips 4-5 times in a row. This exercise will somewhat stretch even the back part of your shoulder muscles.
- Leg extension muscle
Hold onto something in front of you and lift one leg. Grab the lifted foot with your free hand and pull it upwards. You will feel as the leg extension muscle stretches.
Stand with closed, straight legs and bend forward as much as you can. Keep the maximum stretched position, then bounce carefully. Keep the stretched position once again, but at this time slightly deeper than before. Repeat 4-5 times in a row.
Stand and lean against any surface as if you wanted to push it away from you. Straighten your legs and let your calve muscles stretch. Alternate as you keep bending your legs slightly, then straighten them again. This way you can stretch all the different parts of your calve muscles.
Obviously, there are many other stretching exercises. The ones described here, however, don’t require any tools, they are easy and not very time-consuming to perform. If you want to stretch all these muscle groups, you can still do it in a minute, but if you have a specific workout plan and want to stretch the muscle groups that you worked with you can even finish faster than that. If your goal is health preservation these basic exercises shall be enough, but if you want to achieve more you will need more time and more diversified stretching exercises.