8 Stretches to Increase Flexibility That You Can Do at Home.
Here at Not Just A Pretty Face we want to ensure that even though we're all on lockdown, your flexibility doesn’t take a hit. We’ve ensured that all these stretches can be done without any equipment, and the beauty is you can do these at home either in front of the TV, or in the garden whilst enjoying the sun - weather permitting! If you’re looking for indoor gym routines check out our bums and tums blog!
So, before we start doing your flexibility stretches at home it’s important to understand the benefits behind the stretches, we’re going to be doing in this Not Just A Pretty Face Home Stretch Session:
- Stretching increases blood flow and energy levels.
- Helps lengthen your muscles reducing the risk of injury.
- Assist the reconstruction of bad posture.
- Reduces muscle aches and pains.
- Permits muscles to stretch allowing your body to be more flexible.
Flexibility is extremely key at a time like this when you’re often sat down for a large number of hours each day as muscles will tighten, especially in the hamstrings, glutes and lower back so these will be the focus of this session.
- To start, we’ll commence with a hamstring stretch to lengthen muscle tissues. To do this safely it’s key to hold each stretch for 30-60 seconds when increasing flexibility for that muscle group. The hold length of each stretch depends on how tight each muscle is and the tighter it is the longer you hold the stretch. So, sit down on the floor or on your gym/yoga mat and lean forward to your toes as shown in the picture. Begin gently and ease into the stretch pushing further as you see fit to create that safe elongation of your muscle. Remember to control your breathing throughout the stretch and don’t overdo the stretch as this may cause damage.
- Remain in this seated position and spread your legs to create a V shape and lean forward and over your legs whilst keeping the glutes on the floor to feel the stretch. You should be able to feel this in your hamstrings, hip flexors and groin area. This should start to really warm your muscles up and activate different areas of the body.
- Now step onto your mat and spread your legs slightly further apart than shoulder width. Place one hand on your hip and lean into that side, whilst bringing the other over your head and as if you were trying to gently press against a wall. You should feel this stretch in your lower back and it lengthens the outer side. This will help if you’re sat down often as your back tends to tighten when in this position for a long period of time.
- Stay in the same position as before, but now spread the legs slightly wider and lean over one knee. This will lengthen the groin and hip flexors and really helps with hip mobility and flexibility within this region.
- Back to the floor! Kneel down and spread your knees slightly wider than hip width, whilst pushing your hips back towards your ankles and reach forward. This stretch opens up hip mobility and you will also feel this in your hip flexors, increasing mobility, which is key if you’re trying to improve your splits technique or leg mobility in general.
- Whilst you’re on the floor an excellent stretch to decrease tightness within the lower back area is the famous “happy cat, sad cat”. To do this again kneel on your mat and place your hands on the mat directly underneath you’re your shoulders as demonstrated in the picture. Then push your back to the sky allowing your chin to drop close to the bottom of your neck. Hold this for about 10 seconds before doing the opposite and pushing your stomach towards the ground, whilst looking to the sky to perform this safely.
- This leads directly into our next stretch so leave the hands face down on the mat and take your legs back behind your body as if you were about to do a full press up. There are two variations of this stretch so pick whichever suits you, depending how tight your hip mobility is. Bring your left leg up and inside of your left hand – don’t worry if you can’t get your feet level with your hands as this will come with time. Hold this position for 15 seconds before swapping legs and complete this rotation 4 times each leg. If this is to tight drop your knee on your back leg to the floor and complete these sets as instructed.
- Now, for our final stretch lay on your back in a crucifix position and bring your right leg up so you have a 90 degree between your legs. Then bring this leg over and across your body but ensuring your shoulders remain in contact with the ground for the whole stretch. You may hear a click or two but don’t worry as this is due to the air bubbles in the fluid surrounding and lubricating your joints and this stretch causes these gases to be released. Hold that position for 15 seconds and do the same with the other leg and repeat 4 times. Once this is completed remain on your back and bring your knees to your chest and wrap your arms around your legs putting you in a ball. This will loosen any tension in your back and hold this for 20-30 seconds whilst controlling your breathing.
To complete this session, control your breathing and complete any stretches slowly in any areas of noticeable tightness. Relax and lay on your mat and close your eyes for a couple of minutes and clear your mind whilst controlling your breathing and you should feel a sense of relaxation.