Welcome to the Flexibility Challenge. Below you will find a list of stretches that are recommended to help improve your overall flexibility. Try to select a stretches from each major muscle groups (calf, hamstrings, inner and outer thigh, quads, abs, lower back, chest, upper back and arms). You may perform your own routine or attend a stretching based class (such as yoga) to supplement your work out. A few points to remember • • • • •
Try to stretch at least 3 days week and mark those dates on the Flexibility Challenge progress chart. Try to warm-up a bit before stretching. A warm muscle is a more pliable muscle. Remember to take deep breaths while stretching. Stretching may elicit some general discomfort; however avoid any stretch that causes sharp pains. Try to hold each stretch for at least 15 seconds and do 2-3 sets. Lower Body
All Fours Quad Stretch (Quads)
Start off by balancing on your hands and knees, then lift your right leg off the floor and hold the foot with your right hand. (Doing just this much works your torso and abdominal stabilizers.) Push the foot toward the ceiling (not the buttocks). To add the hip flexor stretch, press your hip down toward the floor. Switch sides.
Bench Hip Flexor Stretch (Quads, Hip Flexors)
Lie on a bench, table, or a bed so that your buttocks are right up to the edge. Pull one knee to your chest and lower your left leg toward the floor (your foot doesn’t have to touch the floor; it can hang in the air). Make sure you hold your spine in a neutral position as you do this (don't arch your back). Keep your lowered leg slightly bent for less stretch; straighten it for more. Switch sides. Standing Quadriceps Stretch (quads, hip flexors) Grab ankle and bring foot towards buttocks. Maintain good posture throughout stretch
Seated Butterfly Stretch (Inner Thigh Muscles) Sit up straight while balancing on your sit bones. Touch the soles of your feet together with your feet six to eight inches in front of your hips. (Don’t pull your feet in too close that’s tough on the knees.) Rest your elbows or hands on your inner thighs (relax your shoulders as you do this) and incline your chest forward. You don't need to round your shoulders to perform this stretch. Runner’s Stretch (Calf) •
Stand at arm's length from a wall or a piece of sturdy exercise equipment.
Place your right foot behind your left foot. Slowly bend your left leg forward, keeping your right knee straight and your right heel on the floor and hold stretch To deepen the stretch, slightly bend your right knee as you bend your left leg forward. Switch legs and repeat.
Seated Hamstring Stretch The seated hamstring stretch helps stretch the back of the thigh and must be performed with proper posture. Concentrate on keeping the spine extended.
Sit tall, lifting body through the spine. Relax shoulders. Bend right knee and extend left leg comfortably. Extend forward slowly and hold Standing Straight Leg Hamstring Stretch
Place one leg elevated then anteriorly tilt pelvis until first stretch is felt in the hamstrings.
Supine Hamstring Stretch • • • •
Lie on the floor near the outer corner of a wall or a door frame. Raise your left leg and rest your left heel against the wall. Keep your left knee slightly bent. Gently straighten your left leg until you feel a stretch along the back of your left thigh.. Switch legs and repeat.
Hip Flexor Lunge Stretch • • • •
Kneel on your right knee, cushioning your kneecap with a folded towel. Place your left foot in front of you, bending your knee and placing your left hand on your left leg for stability. Place your right hand on your right hip to avoid bending at the waist. Keep your back straight and abdominal muscles tight. Lean forward, shifting more body weight onto your front leg. You'll feel a stretch in your right thigh.
Cross Leg Stretch Sit on ground with left leg straight out and right leg bent and crossed over left. Repeat with other leg
Seated Floor Twist (Glutes, Lower Back)
Sit up straight, balanced on your sit bones. Keep your spine straight. Straighten your left leg, then cross your right leg over the left (put the right foot on the floor, outside the left knee). Turn your torso to the right, "hooking" the outside of your right knee with your left elbow. Put your right hand on the floor behind you for balance as you twist. Switch sides.
Upper Body Standing Biceps-Wall Stretch (Biceps and Chest)
Place the palm, inner elbow, and shoulder of one arm against the wall. Keeping the arm in contact with the wall, exhale and slowly turn your body around, to feel the stretch in your biceps and chest. Adjust the hand position either higher or lower and repeat to stretch the multiple biceps and chest muscles.
Cat Stretch (upper back muscles)
On your hands and knees, pull your belly and round your spine completely lower back, shoulders, and neck (let your head drop). Hold stretch. Shoulder stretch with towel • •
Grasp a rolled-up towel firmly with both hands, as shown. Gently pull the towel toward the ceiling with your top hand. You'll feel a stretch in the shoulder of your opposite arm as your lower hand is gently pulled farther up your back. Hold the stretch Switch hands and repeat.
Mckenzie Press Up (Abdominals) • • •
THIS EXERCISE SHOULD BE AVOIDED IF ANY LOW BACK PAIN/DISCOMFORT/INJURIES ARE A CURRENT ISSUE! Lie on your stomach. Place hands just outside the tops of your shoulders. Inhale deeply and begin pressing upward (push up). As you slowly push up, exhale and leave your pelvis on the floor / mat! It is very important to relax the buttocks & spine muscles! Hold the position at the top until you need to take a breath. As you inhale, slowly lower your body to the floor.
Shoulder and Triceps
Bring right arm across your body and over your left shoulder, holding your elbow with your left hand, until you feel a stretch in your tricep and posterior deltoid. Then repeat for your other arm.
Triceps and Upper Back Stretch
Reach your hand behind your head, grasp your elbow and gently push downwards. Slightly lean laterally to further stretch the upper back muscles
Hug Knees to Chest (Lower Back)
Lie down on your back and pull both knees up to your chest. Hold your arms under the knees, not over (that would put to much pressure on your knee joints). Slowly pull the knees toward your shoulders. This also stretches your buttocks muscles
Spinal Stretch (Middle Back)
Sit in a chair so your back is straight and your feet planted on the floor. Interlace your fingers behind your head, elbows out and your chin down. Twist your upper body to one side about 3 times as far as you can. Then lean forward and twist your torso to reach your elbow to the floor on the inside of your knee. Return to upright position and then repeat for your other side. Standing Torso Reach (Upper Back) Stand straight with your feet shoulder width apart and facing forward. Place your right hand on your right hip and reach you left arm over your head to bend your torso until you feel a stretch through your sides. Hold for 15 seconds, then repeat for your other side.