Static stretching is so important to do after a workout. It improves flexibility and range of motion, helps prevent injury, and releases tension in your muscles. Static stretches, like bending over to touch your toes, elongate specific muscle groups, and can benefit your overall health by preventing injury and improving posture. While static stretching exercises should be done post-exercise, they’re also beneficial for people who sit at a desk all day. Take a look at some of our favourite static stretches for flexibility!
What Is Static Stretching?
Static stretching is when you hold a stretching position for about 30 to 60 seconds without moving. It requires you to move a muscle as far as it can go without feeling any pain and holding it in place. This type of stretching is typically done at the end of your workout, which allows your muscles to loosen up, while increasing flexibility and range of motion. You should repeat static stretches two to three times each.
Static stretches should be used as part of a cool down routine after you exercise to help reduce your risk of injury. However, using static stretching in your warm up, prior to working out or playing sports, may negatively impact your performance. Static stretching may limit your body’s ability to react quickly, increasing your risk of injury.
What Are the Benefits of Static Stretching?
- Improves flexibility
- Increases range of motion
- Decreases stiffness
- Increases blood flow to the joints
- Enables you to move with more comfort and ease
- Enhances agility, speed, and muscle strength
- Prevents injury
- Helps muscles recover after a workout
- Releases tension in your muscles
- Promotes relaxation and mental wellness
Static vs. Dynamic Stretching: What’s the Difference?
Dynamic stretching is typically done before you workout and involves active movements that help get your muscles warmed up and ready for exercise. They prepare your muscles, ligaments, and other soft tissues for performance and safety, and improve speed, agility, and acceleration. They help increase muscle temperature and decrease muscle stiffness. Examples of dynamic stretches are leg swings, butt kicks, arm circles, and high knees.
Static stretching, on the other hand, is done at the end of your workout, once your muscles are fully warmed up, which helps increase your range of motion. Having greater flexibility and range of motion helps you move with more comfort and ease, making everyday tasks and exercises easier. Better flexibility can enhance your agility, speed, and muscle strength, which can help you perform at a higher level when you workout or play a sport.
6 Full-Body Static Stretching Exercises for Flexibility
1. Child’s Pose
Child’s pose helps improve flexibility and mobility, and also relieves muscle tension. It helps stretch your spine, inner thighs, hips, and ankles, easing low back pain and tightness in the hips. And since it’s a resting pose filled with deep breathing, it’s super relaxing.
To do child’s pose, start by kneeling on the floor with your toes together and knees hip-width apart, resting your palms on top of your thighs. On an exhale, lower your torso between your knees, extending your arms out in front of you with your palms facing down. Relax your shoulders toward the ground. Hold the pose for as long as you need.
2. Standing Side Stretch
The muscles down the side of your body can be quite difficult to stretch. The standing side stretch can help get them loosened up, extending your range of motion. It also helps stretch out your back and chest, and helps with alignment and posture.
Stand up straight with your feet hip-width apart. Take your right arm and reach over your head to your left side while bending your side. Keep bending your side slowly until you can feel the stretch in your right side. Hold and repeat on the other side.
3. Reclined Spinal Twist
A reclined spinal twist stretches out the back muscles and glutes, massages the back and hips, and helps to lengthen, relax, and realign the spine. It massages the abdominal organs, and encourages the flow of fresh blood to the digestive organs, benefitting your entire digestive system.
Lie down with your arms extended to the sides of your body and placed on the floor. Keep the right leg straight and pull the left knee toward your chest with both hands, tilt it toward your right side and then drop it slowly over your extended right leg. Keep your shoulder blades flat on the ground, turn your head gently over to the left, and hold for about 20 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
4. Cobra Pose Abdominal Stretch
Cobra pose abdominal stretch stretches your abs, hip flexors, the tops of your feet, pectoralis muscles, biceps, and the cervical flexors on the front of your neck. It also engages and strengthens muscles including your hamstrings, triceps, and muscles of the upper back.
Lay face down on the floor on an exercise mat with your face towards the ground and your palms facing the floor. With your hips flat against the ground, gently push your upper body up from the ground, looking straight ahead. You should feel a stretch in your abs. Hold the position for about 20 seconds and return to starting position. Repeat three times.
5. Figure Four Stretch
The figure four stretches the outside of your hips as well as your butt. It specifically targets the gluteus medius, which is the muscle located on the side of your hip that aids in hip mobility and stability. It eases tightness in your back, reducing back pain and helps boost flexibility and range of motion in your hips and back.
Lie down on your back with both knees bent and both feet flat on the floor. Lift your right leg and cross it over your left thigh, while keeping your left knee bent. Grab the back of your left thigh with both hands and pull both legs inward toward your core. You should feel a deep stretch in your glutes. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat on the other leg.
6. Standing Forward Bend
The standing forward bend stretches the back of the legs, hips, and spine, and strengthens the legs, thighs, and knees. It can also relieve tension in the lower back if done with slightly bent knees.
Stand up straight with your legs hip-width apart and raise your arms straight above your head. On an exhale, engage your thighs, pull your belly in, and bend forward hinging from the hips. You can have your legs straight or bend them slightly. Place your hands/fingertips on the floor in front of you or hold the back of your ankles or calves. Keep your hips over your heels and press your heels into the floor. Let your head dangle, keeping your neck relaxed. Lengthen your spine as you inhale, soften deeper into the pose as you exhale. Hold for about 30 seconds.
These static stretches will help relieve tension in your body and decrease stiffness post workout! Make sure to stretch after you exercise to increase your flexibility.
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