Did you know that there are FOUR elements of fitness? That’s right: muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, and flexibility. Most of us pay sufficient attention to the first three, but the last one is neglected or doesn’t receive the priority it deserves. If your goal is to be truly fit, that means you’ll be limber, flexible, and mobile enough for all your activities of daily life. To that end, here are a few stretches you should do every day:
The Runner’s Stretch is one of the best stretches to limber up your lower body, hips, and lower back in preparation for any workout. It’s not just good for a pre-run stretching session; you can also use it to warm up before cycling, weight training, CrossFitting, or even sports. Start off with your right foot forward, and drop into a lunge, touching the floor on either side of your foot. Feel the stretch in the back of your foreleg. Take a deep breath and raise your hips, straightening your fore leg. Remain in this Triangle Pose for a few moments, breathing deeply, before returning to your original position. Repeat on the other leg.
Yoga is an amazing workout to help you build not only muscular endurance, but also flexibility and mobility in your joints. If you want to limber up before a workout, a good Yoga sequence can do wonders to help you warm up and get used to moving. Start in a standing position, with your feet together. Reach your arms up to the sky, then slowly bend forward, arms extended, to touch your toes. Walk your hands forward to the Downward Dog position, and hold it for a 10-count. Transition into Plank, which you will hold for another count of 10. Move into Upward Dog or the Cobra Pose for another 10 seconds, then move to Child’s Pose. Return to Upward Dog/Cobra Pose, return to plank, and finish in Downward Dog. The sequences will loosen up your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings beautifully.
Your spine takes quite the beating when you do high intensity exercise. It’s vital that you take the time to loosen it up and stretch it out before training. Standing stretches can give your spine and core muscles a good warm-up, reducing the risk of injuries when you move around. Stand with your feet together, and raise both arms directly overhead. Bend to the right, holding the pose for 10 seconds. Repeat on the left side, backward, and forward. Finish with a few seconds of toe touches.
Standing Arm Stretch
Your arms and shoulders do a lot of the work when you lift, perform bodyweight training, or do your CrossFit WOD. You need to make sure to warm up those shoulders before you get to work. Start off by bringing your right arm across your chest. Use your left arm to grip it and pull it tight against your body. You should feel the stretch across the back of your shoulder. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds, then repeat with the other arm. Extend your right arm overhead, bend the elbow, and touch your hand to your upper back. Grip the back of your right elbow with your left hand and tug gently on it. Again, you should feel the stretch in your shoulders and triceps.
This is a simple stretch that will increase the mobility of your hip joints. Spread your feet beyond shoulder width apart and drop into a squat. Hold the squat as long as possible to increase your hip mobility.