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These six simple moves will guarantee you flexibility for life
You know why guys hate stretching? Because it’s all about subtlety. Stretching doesn’t give you bigger biceps, popping pecs or amazing abs. It has multiple benefits, though, like reducing injury and improving athleticism–and yet we still don’t stretch. And here’s something you may not know: regular stretching can boost your strength, according to a study in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. How? Increasing your range of motion can add mass and length to your muscles, allowing you to generate more force and lift more weight. And ultimately, of course, that leads to more muscle. Adopt these six situational stretches for some quick fixes without going all yoga on yourself. They can help you feel younger, improve your posture, strengthen your core and back, and make your entire physique better equipped for sports, workouts and sex.
THE BEST STRETCH TO DO:
While sitting at your computer
Sit in a chair with your hands on your hips and your feet flat on the floor. Gently raise your chest towards the ceiling, but don’t look up; keep your chin level with the floor. Now squeeze your shoulder blades together, feeling the stretch in your chest. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds, then relax. That’s one rep.
Do this a total of 10 times.
When your muscles are elastic, it’s easier for you to maintain good posture, says rehab specialist Dr Harold Millman. Good posture can alleviate the muscle strain that develops when you sit for long hours at your desk.
For tight lats
KNEELING STABILITY-BALLLAT STRETCH
Kneel on the floor and place a stability ball in front of you. Place your hands on the ball, lean forwards at your hips and press your shoulders towards the floor. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat twice. Do this up to three times a day.
Lie on the floor, palms facing each other. Raise your arms up off the floor and arc them back down to the floor above your head. If you arch your lower back, bend your elbows or rotate your palms, you need this stretch.
Before any exercise
Start in a push-up position. Walk your feet towards your hands until the stretch in your legs starts to feel uncomfortable. Keeping your feet still, slowly walk your hands forwards until you’re back in the push-up position. Do this five to 10 times.
This works your whole body, especially your legs, lower back, hips and shoulders.
To warm up for sports
BACK LUNGE AND TWIST
Stand with your feet together. Now step back with your right leg and bend your left knee 90 degrees. Twist your torso to the left, extending your arms out horizontally to deepen the stretch. Then step forwards to bring your feet together. Repeat the back lunge with your left leg, twisting your trunk to the right. Do a total of 10 repetitions with each leg.
Dynamic stretching is a good warm-up because it gets blood flowing and excites the nervous system, says strength coach Ron DeAngelo.
For healthy shoulder mobility
Lie on your left side. Forma90-degree angle with your left arm, your upper arm on the floor and your forearm pointing up. Use your right hand to stretch your left forearm forwards towards the floor without allowing your upper arm to rise. Hold for five seconds, do nine more reps, then switch sides and repeat.
A flexible rotator cuff improves your range of motion, which helps in many sports.
After a long day at work
CORNER CHEST STRETCH
Stand facing the corner of a room. Raise your arms to shoulder height and place your forearms, elbows and hands against each wall. Lean inwards to stretch your chest muscles and hold for a count of 15. Repeat for a total of 10 to 12 reps.
Raising or lowering your arms stretches different parts of your pectoral muscles.
Adapted from Your Best Body at 40+ by Jeff Csatari. For more workouts and stretches, order your copy from Kalahari.net (R240).