Stretching is an important practice after every workout. When you stretch the muscles, you clear them of metabolic waste, reduces chance for injury, and over time, will give you a long, lean look. Many of us tend to breeze through a stretching regime, but it’s important to take the time to do it correctly.
Do you ever wonder if you’re stretching effectively? Ever feel like you have a knot that you just can’t reach?
If you know how to properly stretch, you’ll be more likely to do it and realize the amazing benefits.
We were thrilled to discover these beautiful illustrations by Vicky Timón, a yoga expert and author of “Encyclopedia of Pilates Exercises.” They show exactly which muscles are being used with the most popular stretches. The commentary was provided by James Kilgallon, CSCS, creator of Mazlo’s Body Maintenance Program.
1. Camel Pose
Muscles highlighted: Rectus Abdominus and External Obliques. This stretch is best reserved for people who have good flexibility already. Sit on your heels and place your hands behind you as you push your hips up and forward. Avoiding putting too much pressure on your lumbar spine. If you have neck problems do not drop your head back.
2. Wide Forward Fold
Muscles highlighted: Adductors. This is a great exercise to open the hips, and stretch the adductors and hamstrings. Start this stretch with your knees bent, and spine straight. As your muscles begin to release you can slowly straighten your legs, round out your back and reach for your feet. Lightly pull on the bottom of the balls of your feet to release the calf muscles as well. If you can not reach your feet you can use a belt or towel. You can also perform this stretch lying on your back with your feet going up the wall.
3. Frog Pose
Muscles Highlighted: Adductors. This is a deep groin stretch that can place pressure on your knees so it’s helpful to be on a soft surface. Start by resting on your hands and knees and slowly bring your knees wider until you feel a good stretch in your groin muscles. You will feel slight variations in the stretch as you actively push your hips back and forward.
4. Wide Side Lunge Pose
Muscles Highlighted: Adductors. Start with both feet forward in a wide stance with your legs as straight as possible. Slowly walk your hands to your right foot while bending your right knee and rotating your left toes up to the ceiling, sitting into your right hip. Keep your right foot flat on the ground.
5. Butterfly Stretch
Muscles Highlighted: Adductors. Start in a seated position and bring the soles of your feet together and sit tall through your sit bones. Progress this stretch by placing pressure on your knees with your hands. The closer your feet are to your body the more you will stretch your groin muscles. Bring your feet farther from your hips and slowly round your upper body to release your back muscles.
6. Forearm Extensor Stretch
Muscles Highlighted: Forearm Extensor. Start by packing your shoulder down and back, then externally rotate the shoulder for the optimal position to stretch the forearm muscle. Once in this position apply pressure to your opposing hand to begin the stretch. You can progress this stretch by touching the tips of your fingers together in a tea cup shape.
Click here to see all 36 exercises and illustrations.
Advanced Glute and Hamstring Muscle Targeting with an Elliptical
Pair proper stretching with advanced muscle targeting during your workout for maximum effectiveness. The best manufacturers of fitness equipment conduct extensive research to develop the most natural and correct movement.
Ellipticals are unique because they allow you to simulate many different movements to give you a wider variety of workout possibilities. Choose a durable and natural-feeling elliptical and select a low incline level to simulate walking or jogging, or choose maximum incline to mimic a stair climb. The higher the incline, the more emphasis is put on the quadricep and gluteus muscles. You can specifically target the muscles you want to work most by following this chart: