A crucial component of fitness that is mostly overlooked is flexibility, and it is not meant to be so. In order to keep your day to day activities easy and doable, it is highly imperative that you maintain your muscles. Also, this would allow your joints to work at an optimal level and get to the maximum range of motion in addition to preventing injuries like back pain. These are some of the best stretch exercises to improve your flexibility;
These are the steps to perform the exercise;
Up and over
· Stand tall and keep your arms out by your sides, holding the two ends of the exercise band at your front.
· Raise your two arms to get the band over and behind your head. Keep going down your back as far as you can.
· While pulling hard at the two ends in a bid to keep it taut, raise it up and over your head. Do this ten times.
Side reach and stretch
This helps boost the mobility of your upper back and shoulders. These are the steps to perform the side reach and stretch;
· You can start by standing or sitting and having your feet apart by a distance of shoulder width.
· Use your left hand to reach up and over your head as though you want to climb a rope. Maintain this position for a while.
· Then, bring your left arm down and then maintain the position again. Perform this five times on both sides.
The cat stretch
You will need a blanket for this exercise. These are the steps to perform the cat stretch;
· Get down on your knees and hands, then use the blanket as a cushion for your knees.
· Your knees should be directly below your hips, and then your wrists should be placed forward a bit from your shoulders.
· Breathe in slowly and bring your chest up and forwards; allow your spine to sink down.
· Arch your back upwards while exhaling with a sigh, then relax your neck. Perform this five times and remember to inhale and exhale while moving.
Neck and shoulder release
This is a good exercise to stretch your neck and shoulders to boost their flexibility. These are the steps to perform the neck and shoulder release;
· Keep your shoulders relaxed while sitting up straight. Engage your core by having your back and tummy muscles loosely pulled in.
· Drop your left ear to your left shoulder slowly as far as you can; you should feel the stretch on the side of your neck.
· Press the fingers of your right hand on the floor and extend the stretch to the top of your shoulder. Maintain this position for 30 seconds.
· Switch over to your other side and repeat.
These are the steps to perform the chest mobilizer;
· Stand tall and keep your arms wide out, bring your chest forward, and tilt your head back. Inhale deeply.
· Exhale, and then nod your head to your chest simultaneously. Then, imagine hugging yourself as you use your opposite arm to clasp your upper arm. Also, hunch your back forwards.
· Repeat this motion anytime your chest or back feels stiff.
Standing hamstring stretch
These are the steps to perform the standing hamstring stretch;
· Stand tall with your feet apart by a distance of shoulder width.
· With your right foot, step forward. Then, flex your right foot upwards to you.
· Place your hands on your right thigh while bending forward at your hips. Ensure your right leg is kept straight while bending your left knee slightly.
· The stretch should be felt along your right hamstring. Maintain this position for about a minute before switching sides.
Lower back mobilizer
These are the steps to perform the lower back mobilizer;
· Lie down with your back, stretch out your arms on the floor, and keep your legs almost straight.
· Breathe out and lift your two knees to your chest. Feel the air expand your chest as you breathe in.
· Once again, breathe out as you drop your two knees to your left. Turn your head to the right while keeping both shoulders in contact.
· Breathe in and take your knees back to your chest. Breathe out and perform the same motion to the right.
· Stand tall and keep your feet apart by a distance of hip-width. Loosely relax your arms at your sides.
· Then, roll both shoulders up, back, and down. While starting the move, point your thumbs forward. Then at the end of each shoulder roll, your elbows should be slightly bent, and your palms should be pointing forward.
· Reverse the motion to complete one rep.