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Gain Flexibility Fast With These 9 New Stretches

author image Henry Halse
Henry Halse is a Philadelphia-based personal trainer, speaker, and writer. He's trained a wide variety of people, from couch potatoes to professional athletes, and helped them realize their own strength, determination and self-confidence. Henry has also written for various fitness and lifestyle publications, including Women’s Health, AskMen and Prevention.

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Gain Flexibility Fast With These 9 New Stretches
Don’t let your stretch routine go stale. Photo Credit: Kristen Schellenberg / LIVESTRONG.COM

All aspects of your workouts are subject to monotony — even stretches. So if you’ve found yourself losing inspiration, it might be time to switch things up. But you don’t have to reinvent the wheel for each stretch. Sometimes all you have to do is change your position.

For example, you can change a stretch from standing to lying down. Another simple swap is to change a two-limb stretch to a single-limb stretch, focusing on one side of the body at a time. If you decide to try something new, just remember to go slowly and stop if something feels uncomfortable. Stretching should help you avoid injury, not cause it.

1. Instead of: Standing Quad Stretch, Do: Kneeling Quad Stretch
Take it to the floor. Photo Credit: Kristen Schellenberg / LIVESTRONG.COM

1 Instead of: Standing Quad Stretch, Do: Kneeling Quad Stretch

Unless you have impeccable balance, the standing quad stretch can be a toughie. You have to stand on one leg while grabbing and stretching the other. Make things simpler by taking it to the floor.

HOW TO DO IT: Begin in a lunge with your back knee, shin and foot on the floor. Reach behind you and lift your back foot off the floor. Pull it toward your butt as far as you can without pain. Keep your torso tall, put your free hand on your hip or front knee, and lean back to feel the stretch more. If you have knee pain, roll up your yoga mat or put a pillow under your knee.

Read more: 8 Stretching Mistakes That Are Hurting Your Workout

2. Instead of: Standing Forward Fold, Do: Supine Hamstring Stretch
Stretch your hamstrings one at a time. Photo Credit: Kristen Schellenberg / LIVESTRONG.COM

2 Instead of: Standing Forward Fold, Do: Supine Hamstring Stretch

One of the most commonly injured muscles among athletes is the hamstring, according to a 2016 study published in Current Sports Medical Reports. Instead of stretching both hamstrings at the same time in a standing toe touch, try stretching them one at a time so that one side isn’t limiting the other.

HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your back with your legs extended along the floor. Grab one leg by your thigh and pull it toward your chest until you feel a stretch in your hamstring. The other leg should be flat on the ground. Switch legs, making sure you stretch each leg for the same amount of time.

Read more: 12 Powerful Yoga Poses for Every Athlete

3. Instead of: Pigeon Pose, Do: 90/90 Hip Stretch
Take it easy on your knees. Photo Credit: Kristen Schellenberg / LIVESTRONG.COM

3 Instead of: Pigeon Pose, Do: 90/90 Hip Stretch

Pigeon pose is commonly used to stretch the hips and glutes. However, if you have knee pain or simply feel uncomfortable getting into position, try the 90/90 hip stretch.

HOW TO DO IT: Sit on the ground and put your hands behind you for support. Bend your knees and plant your feet on the ground as wide apart as possible. Then twist your body to the left, but keep your heels down. Lower your knees to the left until the outside of your left knee and inside of your right knee are pressed into the ground. Lean forward over your left leg. When you’re done, twist your body to the right and flip your legs so that the outside of your right knee is flat on the ground, then lean forward over your right leg.

4. Instead of: Standing Spinal Twist, Do: Lunge and Twist
Twist and shout! Photo Credit: Kristen Schellenberg / LIVESTRONG.COM

4 Instead of: Standing Spinal Twist, Do: Lunge and Twist

Few feelings are more gratifying when you’re stretching than cracking your back. However, it’s difficult to find twisting motions that are safe for your spine. Standing and twisting can be dangerous because it’s easy to turn too far. Instead, do the lunge and twist, which limits your range of motion by incorporating a hip stretch.

HOW TO DO IT: Start by taking a large step forward with your left foot and bend your knee to 90 degrees. Plant your left hand on the ground on the outside of your left foot. Then, reach your right hand up toward the ceiling, slowly turning your shoulders and head to follow the arm. Then switch to twist the opposite way. Once you’re done on the left side, step forward with your right leg and repeat.

Read more: The Best Yoga Moves for Your Back

5. Instead of: Doorway Chest Stretch, Do: Standing Wall Slide
Open up your chest and shoulders. Photo Credit: Kristen Schellenberg / LIVESTRONG.COM

5 Instead of: Doorway Chest Stretch, Do: Standing Wall Slide

If your shoulders are slumped forward (like when you’ve sat at a desk all day), try the standing wall slide. It pulls your shoulders back and stretches your chest better than the doorway chest stretch.

HOW TO DO IT: Start by sitting or standing in front of a wall (or lying on the ground). Sit/stand tall so that your entire spine, both shoulders and the back of your head are flat against the wall. Lift your arms and press them back against the wall with your elbows bent at 90 degrees. Slide your arms up as high as you can without lifting your back, shoulders or head off the wall. Then pull your arms back down.

6. Instead of: Standing Forearm Stretch, Do: Quadruped Forearm Stretch
Give those wrists and forearms a good stretch. Photo Credit: Kristen Schellenberg / LIVESTRONG.COM

6  Instead of: Standing Forearm Stretch, Do: Quadruped Forearm Stretch

If you’re constantly clicking a mouse, gripping a barbell or working with your hands all day, your forearm muscles can quickly tighten. Instead of standing around stretching your forearm by grabbing your hand and pulling it back, make the stretch more active by starting in a quadruped position.

HOW TO DO IT: Get on your hands and knees. Make sure your hands are under your shoulders and your knees are under your hips. Start with your fingers facing out to the sides, pointing away from each other. Keeping your hands flat on the ground, rock your shoulders to the left and right, stretching your forearms. If this is too easy, rotate your arms until your fingers point backwards. Keep your hands flat on the ground and gently sit your butt back to your heels.

7. Instead of: Child’s Pose, Do: Puppy Pose With Twist
You can feel it all over. Photo Credit: Kristen Schellenberg / LIVESTRONG.COM

7 Instead of: Child’s Pose, Do: Puppy Pose With Twist

One of the most relaxing poses in yoga — Child’s pose — is a favorite stretch for many. Puppy pose with a twist, however, might be your new favorite.

HOW TO DO IT: Start on all fours with your knees under your hips. Extend your right arm out in front of you as you slide your left arm under your body, twisting your torso to the right. Hold for 30 seconds before switching to the other side.

Read more: The Best Stretches to Avoid Injury in Your Favorite Sports

8. Instead of: Pulling Lat Stretch, Do: Bench Lat Stretch
Put your back into it. Photo Credit: Kristen Schellenberg / LIVESTRONG.COM

8  Instead of: Pulling Lat Stretch, Do: Bench Lat Stretch

Sean Light, a former strength coach for the Los Angeles Lakers, believes that lat stretches are some of the best exercises you can do in a gym. Tight lats can pull your shoulders out of place and even restrict your breathing, according to Light, so make sure you stretch them properly. Instead of a pulling lat stretch, where you simply grab a pole and lean back, try the slightly more sophisticated bench lat stretch.

HOW TO DO IT: Stand in front of a bench, couch or chair and grab the back with your hands about shoulder-width apart. Step your feet back and bend at the waist so that your upper and lower body forms a right angle. Press your torso toward the ground so that you feel a stretch across your upper back. Hold for 30 seconds, and then release.

9. Instead of: Butterfly Stretch, Do: Frog Stretch
Release your inner hips. Photo Credit: Kristen Schellenberg / LIVESTRONG.COM

9 Instead of: Butterfly Stretch, Do: Frog Stretch

The seated butterfly stretch is a very natural movement. Sometimes, it’s even comfortable to sit in that position with your feet touching and knees out to the side. It’s also a stretch for your inner-thigh muscles. But sometimes the stretch can be uncomfortable on your back or hips. If that’s the case, or if you simply can’t feel a stretch with the butterfly, try the frog stretch.

HOW TO DO IT: Start in a quadruped position with your hands and knees on the ground. Move your knees slightly apart, then move your butt back toward your heels. Come back up to the quadruped position, then move your knees out slightly and move your butt back again. Repeat, moving your knees out slightly each time, until you feel a stretch in your inner thighs. Alternatively, you can hold the knees-apart position.

Read more: 15 Exercises Every Woman Should Do to Improve Her Sex Life

What Do YOU Think?
Tell us what you think! Photo Credit: Kristen Schellenberg / LIVESTRONG.COM

What Do YOU Think?

Do you stretch daily? Are you tired of your stretching routine? Are you going to use any of these stretches? If you do, how do the new stretches compare to the old ones? What muscles do you stretch? How often do you change your stretches? Comment below with your thoughts!

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