When I was a runner, stretching was always a necessity. Sometimes, my post-stretch run would take 30 minutes or more. To be honest, most of the time I would cut the stretching part short after my run. That was until I started attending a yoga class, where stretching is the main event, and it really challenged me.
It’s easy to get lost in stretching and start zoning out, but it’s essential to focus on what you are trying to accomplish while stretching. I never focused on my stretches before. But now that I’ve started weightlifting, stretching has become especially important and crucial for my workouts.
Some of the benefits of stretching: increased blood flow, joint flexibility, protection against tears and injuries, and improved posture. You do have to be cautious while you are stretching because it is possible to strain something if you push too far. Many workout programs tell you to focus on your breath, but it is important to focus on your movements too. You shouldn’t have jerking movements, but fluid, natural motions.
I know I always lose track of time when I am holding a stretch, and luckily it’s not how long you hold it that is important, but how you feel while you do it. Instead of counting, consider how it feels when your muscle returns to its relaxed position.
Here are 40 stretches and the muscles they target. Build a stretch routine that works for you using some of these stretches:
1. Camel Pose: Rectus Abdominus & External Obliques
Kneel with your legs spread shoulder-width apart and arch your back, letting your head relax and hang back.
2. Wide Forward Fold: Adductors (inner thigh muscles)
Sit upright with your legs stretched apart, hands touching the floor behind you, and toes pointing upward. You should feel your inner thighs stretching.
3. Frog Pose: Adductors
Put your arms on the floor in front of you, as if you are about to do a push-up, and then spread your knees apart so that they touch the floor on either side. Bring your feet up in the center so that they are almost touching. It’s as if you are doing a forward squat.
4. Wide Side Lunge Pose: Adductors
This is also called the “tiger stretch.” Keep your feet apart, lunge to one side, and hold. Then lunge to the other.
5. Butterfly Stretch: Adductors
This one is pretty well-known and very simple. Just press your feet together, making your legs into a diamond and hold.