The importance of stretching properly
To get the best muscle performance and reduce the risk of injury, a workout that includes basic stretches is vital.
Experts recommend you perform basic stretches both at the beginning and end of cardiovascular (aerobic) and resistance training programs.
In these stretching activities, a limb is slowly moved to the end of the range of movement until tension is felt in the relevant muscles. This end position is then held for 10-30 seconds while the muscle or joint structure is held on stretch, before returning the limb to its starting position.
Basic stretches include:
Lie on your back with knees flexed. Place your hand behind your knee and lift one leg as high as possible, making sure your knee is kept straight. Hold this position for 10-30 secs, then return to the starting position. Repeat 3-5 times with each leg.
Stand on one leg (holding onto something for stability if you need to) and grasp one foot and flex one knee to pull your heel to your buttock. Return to the starting position. Repeat 3-5 times with each leg.
Knee roll side to side
Lie on your back with knees and hips flexed. Draw in your core muscles and slowly rotate both knees to try to touch the floor. Hold this end position for 10-30 secs and slowly rotate your knees to the other side. Again hold for 10 secs and repeat 5-6 times.
Supine knee across chest
Lie on your back with legs straight. Lift one leg to your chest. Using the opposite hand to your leg, push your knee down towards the floor. Hold this end position for 10-30 secs, then return to the starting position. Repeat 3-5 times with each leg.
Lie prone with hands placed shoulder-width on the floor. Push upwards with palms against the floor and arch your back. Push hips down towards the floor. Hold for 10 secs and return to starting position. Repeat 3-5 times. (If any back or leg pain is experienced during this movement, avoid this exercise and seek professional advice.)
Corner shoulder stretch
Using the corner in a room, place your hands against opposing walls, shoulder width apart. Lean into the corner, keeping your chest high. You should feel the stretch across your chest and at the front of your shoulders. Hold this position for 10-30 secs. Repeat 3-5 times.
Lean against a wall with one foot in front of the other. Bend your front knee and take your weight on your front leg. Keep the heel of your back leg on the ground. You should feel the stretch in the calf of your back leg. Hold this position for 10-30 secs. Repeat 3 times.