5 stretches you will reap benefits from

Want to add the final touch to your fitness arsenal? Mobility and flexibility are the key, says Amanda Khouv.

WHETHER a quick cool down is all you can fit in after a workout or you’re ready to start dedicating some serious time to stretching, honing in on flexibility could do more for you than just being able to show off the fact that you can do the splits.

Reaching down and touching your toes once or twice after a run isn’t going to cut it if you want to reap all the benefits of being mobile and flexible though. 

And according to Lexie Williamson’s new book, The Stretching Bible, you really do want to reap the benefits. 

Doing so can help you avoid common injuries such as lower back strain and iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) — we’re looking at you, runners! — as well as boost your performance in the gym and at sports.

The Yoga Sports Science-qualified instructor and fitness writer also reckons that stretching will help to improve your posture, release stress and help you to even perform the perfect squat.

“It can be tricky knowing where to start on the road to a strong and supple body,” says Lexie. 

“The first rule is simplicity.”

HOW TO DO IT: Perform each move one after the other, taking your time in transition. Hold for the time recommended for each move.

FORWARD BEND

5 stretches you will reap benefits from

Areas trained: HAMSTRINGS, GLUTES

Technique

* Step your feet wide and turn your toes slightly inwards.

* Place your hands on your hips and tip your upper body forwards, stopping when your back begins to round.

* Keep your hands on your hips or place them on the floor. Hold for 30 seconds.

* Exit carefully by bending your knees and rising up to standing with a straight back.

SAFETY TIP: Exit by bending your knees deeper, engaging your abs and rising up with a straight back

POSTERIOR SHOULDER STRETCH

5 stretches you will reap benefits from

Areas trained: SHOULDERS, UPPER BACK, MIDDLE BACK

Technique

* Stand with your right arm straight and at chest height.

* Place your left arm behind your right elbow and draw your arm across your body.

* Hold for 20 seconds.

* Repeat using the other arm.

SAFETY TIP: Do not rotate the torso

LOW LUNGE

5 stretches you will reap benefits from

Areas trained: HIPS, QUADS

Technique:

* From all fours, step your right foot up between your hands and raise your upper body.

*Push your hips forward and slowly lower into the lunge. Rest your hands on your hips or front thigh.

* Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.

SAFETY TIP: Place a cushion or rolled up towel under your knee for comfort if necessary

LIZARD

5 stretches you will reap benefits from

Areas trained: HIPS, GROIN, QUADS

Technique

* Start on all fours.

* Step your right foot up to the outside of your right hand. Let your hips sink down.

* Either keep your arms straight or bend them a little, dropping lower as your flexibility improves.

* Hold for 60 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

HOT TIP: Lower down onto your forearms if this is too easy 

FIGURE FOUR

5 stretches you will reap benefits from

Areas trained: GLUTES, IT BAND

Technique

* Lie on your back with your legs bent. Lift your left foot off the floor and turn your knee out.

* Rest your left ankle on top of your right thigh.

* Hold behind your right thigh and draw both legs in towards you.

* Hold for 60 seconds.

* Repeat, placing your right foot on top.

HOT TIP: For a deeper stretch, move your hands further away so your fingers are interlinked around your shin 


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