3 Key Stretches To Boost Workout Performance
When it comes to your workout, both warm-up and cool-down stretches are important for injury prevention and optimal recovery. The following exercises will help increase your range of motion, ease existing aches and pains, and help prevent strains while working out.
- Start on on your hands and knees, with your back flat in a tabletop pose
- Slowly arch your back and push your stomach toward the floor as you look toward the ceiling, holding that position for three seconds
- Then, slowly round your back up and tuck your tailbone under, pushing your spine up toward the ceiling as you look down toward the floor
- Gently flow between arching and rounding your back 5-10 times, breathing in and out with each motion
The Cat-Cow stretch helps mobilize the spine and eases tense back muscles, which can be a particular problem for weightlifters or athletes who sit a lot during the day. While this can be done as a warm-up or a generalized exercise to prevent back pain, we recommend utilizing it as a cool-down after exercise to alleviate any strain from activity.
- Approach a doorway with your arm positioned up and at a 90-degree angle. Rest your forearm on the doorframe
- Step forward in the doorframe, but leave your arm on the door. You should feel a stretch in the front of your shoulder. For a deeper stretch, step forward a little more.
- Switch arms to stretch both sides. For a more complete shoulder stretch, straighten your arm in the doorframe to reach up above your head, and step forward.
This stretch helps access muscles commonly used by athletes or in the gym, like the shoulders, triceps, and deltoids. This is a great warm-up exercise to increase mobility in the shoulders, prevent injury and strains, and to warm up the joints in your upper body.
- Lie on your back and bend your knees
- Cross your right leg over your left leg by resting your right ankle on your quad
- Grasp the back of your left leg with both hands and pull back gently, until you feel a stretch in your hip and glutes
- Switch sides and repeat
Figure four makes an excellent warm-up exercise because it stretches the glutes, hips, and hamstrings, all of which need to be warm and loose before intense activity. The glutes and hips are common areas for general exercise wear-and-tear, so if you’re feeling soreness in the days after a workout session, give this one a try.