Skipping a post-workout stretch is the most common mistake exercisers make, Olson says. After, not before, your workout is the perfect time to stretch, as your muscles are warm and flowing with oxygen-rich blood.
All adults should be stretching at least three times a week, Olson says. Stretch the front side of your body first, since tighter muscles on the front of the body can reduce flexibility in the back of your body. For example, if your hip flexors are tight, your hamstrings will have limited flexibility.
Short on time? Even doing just two stretches before you head out the door can make a big difference. Here are some of Olsen's favorites:
Heel to Glute Stretch (top image): Lie facedown on a mat or towel with your legs extended out behind you. Reach your right arm out in front of your shoulder, palm pressed into the floor. Bend your left knee and grab a hold of your left foot with your left hand, gently pulling your heel in towards your body. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds and then switch legs. If you have time, repeat up to three times total with each leg.
Prone Abs Stretch (bottom image):Lie facedown with your legs extended out behind you, bend your elbows in underneath your shoulders and lift your chest off the floor, propping your body up with your forearms (palms should face the floor). Let your lower body relax and try to keep your hips on the ground as you extend your spine and stretch the front of your body. Hold for 30-60 seconds and then release. If you have time, repeat up to three times total.