Whatever your shape or frame, stretching is an excellent exercise for strengthening your whole body, increasing your flexibility and warming up your muscles before AND after exercising. Even if you’re not working out that day, put 10 minutes aside in your morning routine for stretching, it’ll change the day!
If you have a larger frame, there are some considerations as to which stretches work best for your body type and fitness level.
If you are troubled by joint pain or prefer to refrain from dynamic stretching, then static stretches which you can do lying down or sitting up will work best.
Sit on the floor with the soles of your feet pressed together so that your legs fall open. Press gently on the side of your knees (which will be facing up to you) and push them towards the floor while keeping your spine very straight. You’ll feel some strain on your groin area. Repeat this up to four times, gently increasing the pressure each time.
Also try sitting on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you in a V-shape. Whilst keeping your back straight and using your hips, lean forward as much as you can and reach towards your toes on each foot. Hold that position for 5 seconds, then relax. Then try to hold it for 10 seconds. Stop when you feel that stretch, do not force it.
Last one to try is when you sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in a V-shape again. Raise one arm straight in the air above your head, keeping your back straight. Then, stretch your raised arm towards the opposite side of your body. Do not lean so far that it becomes uncomfortable however.
Try lying on your back with one straight leg and one bent leg, foot flat on the ground. Pull up the straight leg to your chest and hold it there for five seconds, then 10 seconds. Repeat three to four times.
Static stretches, performed standing up, are good for increasing your flexibility and warming your muscles – and they don’t have to be difficult or better suited to a smaller frame.
Stand up straight and start off with the simple shoulder roll; a yoga stretch designed to relieve shoulder and neck tension. Simply lift your shoulder up and bring it towards the front or back and repeat in each direction, as required.
Then try the hamstring stretch – but do this one gently and slowly so as not to put pressure on your muscles and hamstrings too soon. You’ll need something nearby you can put your foot on (a chair or step). Lift your leg, bending at the knee and place the toe part of your foot on the chair, step or something else stable you can lean on. Let your heel drop off the side so that your leg is raised and stretched out straight. Very gently move your chest towards the raised leg, with one or both hands resting on your upper thigh. Hold the position for 10-20 seconds at a time.
Warm up, cool down
Use these stretches both before and after doing exercise as they will allow your muscles to warm up and then cool down, reducing the risk of soreness and injury, aiding your body in its recovery, as well as setting you up for the next session.
If you are not working out that day, stretching is very beneficial to the mind and body so put a few minutes aside every day if you can!
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