Did you know that maintaining a flexible body can actually improve your health and overall level of fitness? It’s true. Having flexible joints can completely transform your workouts. Stiff joints mean limited range of motion. Limited range of motion can inhibit your body’s ability to get the depth or full mobility you need to maximize your efforts in the gym and make the gains you are chasing. However, for every right way to stretch, there’s a wrong way as well. In this post, we’ll go over 7 stretches for recovery and improved flexibility that you can incorporate into your training.

Before we break it down, here are some tips to keep in mind when performing stretching exercises:

  1. Avoid static stretching (stretching while your body is at rest) before your workouts. This can cause injury and can actually decrease your strength. Wait until after your workout to apply the below stretching techniques.
  2. Remember to breathe during each stretch, and especially while holding a stretch for several seconds. Your muscles need oxygen flow to perform to their full capacity. Just relax, breathe, and hold those stretches!
  3. Be gentle with your body! If you’re holding a stretch and it’s causing immense pain, ease back off of it, readjust, then modify the stretch.
  4. If you are sitting down for a majority of your day, make it a point to stretch out your hip flexors post-workout. For people with desk jobs, hip flexors will be the tightest, most tense muscle in your body.

Now, here are 7 stretching exercises for recovery.

HAMSTRING FLOOR STRETCH – targets lower back, hamstrings, hip flexors

  1. While lying down, bring one leg up keeping it as straight as possible. Grab that leg with both hands and lock your fingers behind your leg pulling it towards you.
  2. Hold for 30-40 seconds and then switch legs.

SPINAL STRETCH – targets back

  1. While lying down, bend one knee and bring it across your body, knee almost touching the ground on the opposite side.
  2. Hold for 20-40 seconds and switch over to the other side.

HIP FLEXOR STRETCH – targets hip flexors

  1. Kneel down on your right knee and place your right foot flat on the ground. Make sure you keep your right heel in front of your knee to avoid knee injury.
  2. Your back foot should be in-line with your thigh.
  3. Square your hips and push into your hips stretching your groin.

LEGS UP THE WALL – targets lower back

  1. Lay down with your butt against a wall, legs extended straight upwards on the wall.
  2. You can place a block under your butt for an extra stretch.

LATERAL SHOULDER ROTATIONS – targets shoulders

  1. Holding a light weight plates or dumbbells with a neutral grip, slowly rotate your arms inward and outward keeping your elbow at a 90 degree angle.

LATTISIMUS DORSI STRETCH – targets lats, obliques

  1. Stand upright, feet shoulder width apart and bring both arms up to meet at the top. Stretch up and over to the right side focusing on stretching your side. Hold for 10 seconds and stretch over to the other side.

CALVES WALL STRETCH

  1. Stand facing the wall, about a half a foot away from it. Put your flexed foot against the wall and push towards the wall stretching out your calf. Repeat on the other foot.