This Stretching Routine Will Keep You Flexible And Injury-Free All Winter Long
Warming up and stretching are critical parts of a successful exercise routine, but they’re especially important in the cold, harsh winter months. The low temperatures encourage your muscles to shorten and contract, which can lead to sprains and strains if you aren’t loose and limber enough when you start moving through your workout. So to avoid unwanted injuries (which, let’s face it, is all of them), stretch before jumping into any fitness activity.
According to Brad Walker, the director of education at StretchLab, an LA-based assisted stretching boutique, the best type of stretching to use during your warm-up is dynamic stretching. The term “dynamic stretching” refers to any stretching exercise that is performed with movement, like swinging or bouncing, to extend your range of motion and flexibility. Dynamic stretches are even more helpful during the colder months because the movement of the stretch generates heat within the muscles.
Looking for the best stretches to stay flexible and injury-free all winter long? Here are five favorites from Walker and the experts over at StretchLab. Start off slowly and gradually, and perform each stretch for about 30 seconds, moving more quickly as you warm up. And always remain in control of your movement.
Stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Cross your arms in front of your body and place your hands on your shoulders. Now rotate your chest and shoulders from one side to the other. To increase the intensity of the stretch, let your arms fall to your sides and use them to generate momentum. Repeat for 30 seconds.
Lateral Trunk Stretch
Stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Let your upper body move to your right side while your right hand moves down your right leg towards the ground. (Don’t lean forward). As soon as you feel a deep stretch in your side and hip, move back to the start position and over to the left side. To increase the intensity of the stretch, reach over your head with your right hand as your left hand reaches toward the ground. Repeat for 30 seconds.
Swinging Hamstring Stretch
Start by standing upright and holding onto something for balance. Shift your weight to your right foot and slowly start swinging your left leg forward and backward. Start off very slowly and carefully and gradually increase the velocity of your swinging leg for about 30 seconds. Switch sides and repeat.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Start by kneeling on your right knee and placing your left leg in front with your foot on the ground (forming a lunge position). Raise your right arm straight above your head. Gently push your hips forward until you feel a deep stretch in the front of your hips and quads. Come back to the starting position and repeat for 30 seconds before switching legs and repeating for another 30 seconds.
Start by standing upright with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Face a wall or pole and lean forward with your hands against the wall. Bend your right knee, raise your heel off the ground and then push your heel back toward the ground. Complete the same movement on your left leg, and continue switching back and forth between legs for about 30 seconds. To increase the intensity of the stretch, move your feet further away from the wall.
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