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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

15 Static Stretches to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine

15 Static Stretches to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine

Stretching is one of those aspects of fitness that many people conveniently forget about. Perhaps you’re one of those who consider stretching nothing but a mere chore meant for ballerinas and gymnasts. While they are great for both, static stretches can offer a boost to any workout routine for people of all fitness levels.

Irrespective of your reasons for working out, be it for sports or personal fitness, one thing is certain: stretching can help you. Static stretches come with myriads of benefits, such as improvement in flexibility and reduction in muscle tightness, which ultimately allow you to go through your workout routines with greater efficiency.

For the purpose of this article, we’ll zero in on several great static stretches and take a look at the benefits and when they should be done.

Benefits of Static Stretches

Static stretches come with tons of benefits that can help you make the most of your workout routine. Some of them include:

Improved Flexibility

If you want to perform better, flexibility is of tremendous importance, irrespective of the specific workouts you do. Luckily enough, static stretches are all you need to get all the flexibility you desire.

Flexibility, also known as the range of motion (ROM) around a joint, has been shown by several studies to be improved by static stretching.[1]

Although the specific mechanism through which this occurs is still unclear, static stretches have been shown to greatly increase muscle and joint flexibility[2] and tissue length[3], which work in tandem to make your workout more effective.

Prevent Injuries

If you’re looking to push yourself to your training limits without coming down with injuries, then stretching will do you a great service. Research has shown time and again that performing the right stretches pre- and post-workout greatly helps with injury prevention.[4]

Think of it this way:

When you stretch, you literally push your joints and muscle fibers to their limit. This increases the stretch tolerance in these muscles and joints over time, and the increased tolerance allows you to perform more rigorous exercises without negatively impacting your body or risking an injury.

Increased Blood Flow to the Joints

Another benefit of stretching is increased blood flow – and by extension, nutrient supply – to the joints and muscles of the target areas. This, in turn, improves the performance of these muscles and joints due to the availability of more nutrients, improved oxygenation, and removal of metabolites.

For static stretching, though, the mechanism of action isn’t as straightforward. When stretching statically, blood flow (capillary oxygenation) temporarily reduces due to vascular compression.

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However, immediately after releasing the stretch, the blood flow to these areas nearly doubles the pre-stretching levels.[5]

Improvement in Recovery

If you’ve been working out for some time, then you’ve probably discovered that a rigorous workout session can leave you battling sore muscles for days.

Recovery essentially means getting rid of this soreness and returning your muscle fibers back to their tip-top condition.

Research has shown that practicing static stretches after your workout session helps to reduce muscle soreness. And while some may argue that this effect is minimal, the fact still remains that stretching does help shorten your recovery time.

Stretching allows tissues to be better hydrated after the induced tension is released, and this encourages reduced inflammation and faster repair of such tissues.

Other reasons why you really should incorporate stretching into your workout include:

  • Improved relaxation
  • Increased movement efficiency
  • Reduction in the risk of lower back pain
  • Reduction in muscle tension
  • Improvement in neuromuscular coordination
  • Improvement in balance and postural awareness
  • Relief from cramping

15 Static Stretches to Enhance Your Workouts

Here are some amazing exercises that will keep your body in tip-top condition and take your workout routine to the next level.

1. Neck Stretch

    While sitting tall or standing, place your right arm gently on the right side of your head, and place the other arm out to your side. Slowly pull your head towards your right shoulder until you can feel the stretch on the left side of your neck. Hold for about 30 seconds before releasing, and repeat for the opposite side.

    Many people tend to hold stress and tension in their neck and shoulders. If you find this is the case, this is one of the best static stretches to use for a muscle release in this area.

    2. Chest Stretch

      Stand upright, with your fingers interlocked behind your back, near your buttocks. While keeping your shoulder blades together and your back straight, push your arms up behind you until you feel the stretch in your chest. Hold for about 20-30 seconds before releasing.

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      3. Cross-Body Shoulder Stretch

      Shoulder Cross-Arm Stretch « CASS FITNESS

        Stand upright or sit up tall on a chair or mat, and extend one arm out in front to shoulder height. Grab the extended arm with your other arm, and pull it towards your chest while keeping the extended arm straight. Continue the pull until you feel the stretch in your shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds, and repeat for the other arm.

        4. Triceps Static Stretch

          Lift your arms overhead, with both arms slightly behind your head and bent at the elbow. Use your right hand to pull your left elbow until you feel a stretch in your triceps. Hold for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the other arm.

          Many know this stretch from gym class, but it really is one of the best static stretches for the arms.

          5. Biceps Stretch

          Arm Exercises | Seated Bent-Knee Biceps Stretch

            Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. With your fingers pointing away from your body, place your two palms flat on the floor behind you. While your hands are steadily in place, slowly slide your butt downward toward your feet until you can feel the stretch in your biceps, shoulders, and chest. Hold for about 30 seconds before releasing.

            6. Wrist Stretch

            11 Best Tennis Elbow Exercises For Pain Free Mobility [PDF]

              While standing up straight or sitting tall, extend your right arm forward to shoulder height with your fingers pointing toward the ceiling. Grab your right fingers with your left hand, and pull your right hand to bend the wrist until you can feel the stretch. Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the opposite arm.

              7. Side Stretch

                Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart. Take your right arm and reach over your head towards your left side while bending your side. Keep bending your side slowly until you can feel a stretch on your right side. Maintain this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the opposite side.

                The muscles down your side body are notoriously difficult to stretch out. This is one of the best static stretches to try on a consistent basis to get them loosened up.

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                8. Abdominal Static Stretch

                  Lie down on your stomach with your face towards the ground and your palms facing the floor as though you’re about to do a push up. While keeping your pelvis firmly on the floor, gently push your upper body up from the ground. This should make your feel some stretch in your abs. Maintain this position for about 30 seconds before releasing.

                  9. Reclined Spinal Twist

                  Supta Matsyendrasana - Supine Spinal Twist - Yogaasan
                    Lie down, with your arms extended to the sides and placed on the floor. While keeping the right leg straight, pull up your left knee towards your chest, tilt it toward your right side, and then drop it slowly over your extended right leg.

                    Keep your shoulder blades flat on the ground, and you should feel the stretch around your back. Hold for about 30 seconds and repeat for the opposite side.

                    10. Knees to Chest

                    Knee-to-chest exercise from Physical Therapists' Advice to Manage Pain at Home - The Active Times

                      Lie on the ground facing the ceiling, with your knees bent. Hold your shins, and pull your knees toward your chest. This should make you feel some stretch in your lower back. Hold for about 30 seconds before releasing. If you’re looking to loosen up your back muscles, this is one of the static stretches you can do daily.

                      11. Hip Flexor Static Stretch

                      How to Do the Standing Lunge Stretch

                        Stand upright in a standard lunge position, and place your two hands on your hips. Step out on your right foot into mini-lunge position, without your knee going beyond your right toe. Hold for about 30 seconds and repeat for the left side.

                        12. Figure 4 Stretch

                        How to Do a Figure 4 Stretch | Openfit

                          Sit tall on the ground with both knees bent and both feet on the floor. Lift your right leg and cross it over your left thigh, while your left knee remains bent. Pull both legs inwards toward your abdomen for a deep stretch of your glutes. Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat with the other leg.

                          13. Standing Quad Stretch

                            Stand tall while maintaining a straight posture. With your left hand, grab a pole, wall, or anything durable for balance. With your right hand, grab your right foot and pull up your heels until they touch your buttocks.

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                            Keep your knees close together while doing this, push your hip forward, and you should feel the stretch in your quadriceps. Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the other side. This is one of the best static stretches for the quads.

                            14. Hamstring Stretch

                              Sit on the floor with your right leg extended straight in front of you and your left leg bent. Reach forward with your right hand, and touch your right toes. This should cause a stretch in your right hamstring.

                              Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the left leg. If you’re unable to reach your toes, try holding your shin instead, but seek to go further every time you perform the stretch until you can touch your toes.

                              15. Calf Stretch

                                Sit on the ground and extend your right foot straight in front of you. Gently pull your right toes backwards with your right hand. This should cause a noticeable stretch in your calf.

                                Hold this position for about 30 seconds and repeat for the left leg, if you’re unable to reach your toes, use a rope or towel to pull your toes inward.

                                Bonus: Stretch With a Resistance Band

                                Resistance bands offer a unique benefit from free weights and create tension throughout your movement. Get the free 30 Day Resistance Band Full Workout Challenge, and challenge yourself to stretch with a resistance band.

                                When Should You Do Static Stretches?

                                Static stretching is great when done correctly and at the right time. Over the years, research has shown that static stretching produces best results when done after working out or on rest days,[6] but not as a part of warm up routines before an explosive workout session.

                                This is because static stretches have a cool-down effect on each muscle group and are more effective when done after the muscles are already warm.

                                That doesn’t mean you must never ever perform static stretches before working out, but do it sparingly. Dynamic stretches, which involve more movement, are generally recommended for warming up as it helps the body prepare better for the work ahead.

                                The Bottom Line

                                Carving out the body of your dreams isn’t only about lifting weights and running. You need to keep your body “elastic” if you’re going to make the most of your training, and that’s the whole point of static stretches.

                                Starting today, be sure to incorporate these static stretching exercises into your routine, and in no time, you’ll find yourself recovering faster and performing better than ever before.

                                More Tips on Stretching

                                Featured photo credit: Alora Griffiths via unsplash.com

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                                Richard Adefioye

                                Richard has a unique passion for healthy living and productivity.

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                                Last Updated on April 19, 2021

                                10 Ways to Quickly Boost Your Workout Motivation

                                10 Ways to Quickly Boost Your Workout Motivation

                                You come in from a long day at the office, and you want to get a workout in, but you can’t find the motivation. Or maybe you think you have workout motivation, but “life” is getting in the way.

                                Making your workout a priority and finding ways to fit it into your schedule will offer you a host of health benefits, help you lose weight, and make you feel like you’ve got your mojo back.

                                Working out will be a lot easier if you view it as a gift you give to yourself versus a distasteful activity you have to get through. Think about your health and vitality — by working out, you are treating yourself as a priority and coming from a place of self-love.

                                Studies show that regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory and thinking skills.[1] So if you’re using the excuse that work is taking over too much for you to have time to work out, think of your workout as a part of your work day. You’re helping your brain be sharper at work.

                                “Healthy exercise is valuable not only for the maintenance of good physiologic function of the body, but also mental clarity, and the feeling of good health.” —Paul Dudley White, MD

                                Once you’re ready to make your fitness goals a priority and give yourself the gift of regular exercise routines, how do you implement your workout plans into your daily life?

                                Here are 10 ways to boost your workout motivation. These strategies will help you keep your fire for working out going strong.

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                                1. Commit to Your Calendar

                                Say you want to work out for 30 minutes 3 times a week. Look at your calendar for that week and see where those spots will fit in the best. Then, make a commitment to sticking to those times.

                                One exercise study showed that a big obstacle to maintaining regular exercise is being able to fit it into a person’s schedule.[2] Make these appointments with yourself unbreakable. Maybe you can handle variety, so one day a week you might have an early morning workout. Another day that week, you might fit it in after work.

                                2. Start Your Day with 20 Minutes for Your Workout

                                You may have great intentions for working out after work or during a lunch hour, but inevitably other commitments will encroach into that time and kill your workout motivation.

                                If you get on up and knock out your workout first thing, you reap the benefits all day long of that energy boost. This workout could be a morning walk or hitting the yoga mat right when you get out of bed.

                                3. Expand Your Horizons and Seek out Variety

                                Our brains crave variety. If you are stuck in the rut of the same old workout, it might be time to stretch yourself.

                                Brainstorm some wild ideas that sound appealing to you. Look for fencing classes in your area. See if there’s a place near you where you can rent kayaks, and look for some local outdoor clubs where you could go kayaking with others.

                                Even if the new thing you try is challenging, give yourself some time to stick with it enough to see if it might be for you.

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                                4. Include Social Time in Your Workout

                                Having a hard time fitting in a workout because of your social life? Instead of only getting together with your friends at the wine bar, see if you can schedule a hike in the park with them, or you could join a rec league like kickball. You could talk a friend into joining with you, or you could sign up by yourself and meet some new pals.

                                Some exercise research has reported that competition is a key motivator for exercise, and you can use that to your advantage in one of these leagues.[3]

                                Other opportunities include playing basketball or tennis at local parks, gyms, or fitness centers. Scope out some ways to make your workout more social or combine fitness activities with your social life to create more workout motivation.

                                5. Use Music to Inspire You

                                Is your playlist stale? Spend some time creating a great workout playlist. Search Spotify or create some motivating stations on Pandora.

                                Think about what songs make you move. If you hear that song, you just can’t sit still. Even the theme song from Rocky might be a good motivator for you.

                                You can create multiple theme playlists to spark more creativity and fun in your workout. How about making a playlist of Best All-Time Roller Skating Songs? Or Best Heavy Metal Workout Songs? Best 80’s Workout Playlist (maybe it includes Let’s Get Physical).

                                6. Find Some Cool Podcasts

                                If music isn’t really your thing, download podcasts or audiobooks that interest you. Getting lost in a good podcast or audiobook can make the time fly by during your workout. And if you get the satisfaction of “multi-tasking” — you’re getting your exercise in while reading a book or staying up to date on a podcast.

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                                For an extra boost of workout motivation, if you’re listening to an audiobook, stop it at a cliffhanger and decide not to listen again until the next time you work out. This will motivate you to start exercising so you can see exactly what happens.

                                7. Update Your Gear

                                Maybe you’re not up for working out because your workout gear is from the dark ages. If you go to pull out a T-shirt for your workout, and it’s full of holes, it’s time to re-do your workout wardrobe.

                                Think of getting new workout gear as investing in yourself. How often do we make sure our living rooms or kitchens are state of the art, but we don’t put any time, energy, or money into our personal effects?

                                It could be as simple as getting a new water bottle. Making sure you have supportive and properly fitting shoes is key to achieving your workout goals. And if you get a new workout tee or tights, it can make you more motivated to get moving.

                                8. Get Organized for Your Workout

                                Set out what you need as motivation for your workout. If you are going on a morning run, lay out your workout clothes alongside some motivational quotes the night before. Fill your water bottle and set it on the counter.

                                For the after-work exercisers, pack your bag of clothes to take with you to work so you have no excuse not to go to the gym. If you are coming home after work, set your clothes out so that when you come home they will be a not-so-gentle reminder to you saying, “It’s time to go on your walk!”

                                9. Use Alarms as Nudging Reminders

                                So you’re not a morning person. If you think getting up earlier to squeeze a workout in before work is just not going to happen for you, then set an alarm for the time you need to start preparing for your workout in the afternoon/evening.

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                                If you want to go on a walk at 6pm, set an alarm for 5:30pm as a reminder. When you hear the alarm, it’s a workout motivation reminder. You don’t want to shirk on your health and fitness.

                                10. Trade Exercise for That After-Work Happy Hour

                                Maybe you are skipping some workouts to meet co-workers at happy hour. Or you come in from a long day at work and have a glass of wine first thing to alleviate the stress of the day. While it’s sometimes nice to unwind with a glass of wine, doing so after work could become a habit, and you can replace that habit with exercise.

                                By cutting out alcohol right after work, it gives you more time in the day to get a workout in. Try to go straight from work to your workout, or put your exercise clothes on the minute you get home and head back out the door for your run or walk. Whatever it is, think of that happy hour as a new kind of “happy hour time” for your to treat yourself and your body to your workout.

                                Exercise can help stave off anxiety and depression, so if your post-work drink is to alleviate post-work stress and anxiety, give a neighborhood walk a whirl instead.[4]

                                The Bottom Line

                                Life sometimes gets in the way of our plans, including our plans to work out and stick to weight loss goals. However, by maintaining the attitude of self-love and giving yourself the gift of time to exercise, you can use the above tips to help you stay on track with your workout motivation.

                                By using some organizational tricks and remembering your reasons for making your workout a priority, you’ll not only find the time to fit it in but feel good about doing so.

                                More on How to Find Workout Motivation

                                Featured photo credit: juan pablo rodriguez via unsplash.com

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