6 Active Stretches You Should be Doing
The Importance of Dynamic Stretching
Each of the exercises here is a dynamic stretch, which means it increases flexibility through movement, rather than by simply holding a position.
“Active stretching decreases your risk of injury, relieves back pain, and boosts your athletic performance,” says Tanja Djelevic, who includes this series in her bendable body class at Crunch Fitness in West Hollywood. “Plus, it just feels good!” (Here are more reasons to make time to stretch.)
Try this routine before a race, after a workout, or at the end of the day—and experience the difference a little motion can make.
How it works:
Twice a week, do the suggested reps of each move in order. Repeat, this time switching sides for stretches 2 through 6.
STRETCHES: INNER AND OUTER THIGHS, ARMS, SHOULDERS, AND BACK
Stand with feet wide, toes turned out, and raise arms overhead.
Squat deep and lower arms in front of you, elbows touching knees and palms facing forward.
Pull right shoulder back as you raise right arm [shown], then twist in opposite direction, raising left arm. Rise up to starting position. Do 8 reps.
STRETCHES: LEGS, BUTT, AND BACK
Lunge forward with left leg until thigh is parallel to floor, and place hands on floor on either side of left foot.
Raise left arm straight up toward ceiling as you rotate left shoulder back [shown].
Lower hand to starting position, and move into next stretch (active pigeon).
STRETCHES: HIP FLEXORS, BUTT, AND ABS
Pull left knee in toward right hand, then lower left leg to floor so foot is below right hip.
Lower hips as you push through hands, lifting head and chest [shown]. From this position, move into the next stretch (down-dog extension).
STRETCHES: BACK, LEGS, AND SHOULDERS
Push hips up as you extend left leg behind you and press right heel down [shown].
Pull left knee in toward chest and lower into a lunge again to complete 1 rep.
Do 8 reps of the entire sequence.
STRETCHES: NECK AND SHOULDERS
Stand with feet hip-width apart and reach right arm behind your back, palm facing away from you.
Clasp hands and pull left elbow back as you draw shoulder blades together.
Hold as you circle head slowly [shown] to complete 1 rep. Do 8 reps.
Take a Bow
STRETCHES: SHOULDERS, LEGS, CHEST, AND BACK
Stand with feet wide, left foot turned out, and rotate torso to the left.
Clasp hands behind you with palms together and arms extended.
Bend forward from hips until back is parallel to floor as you raise arms [shown]. Slowly rise up to starting position. Do 8 reps.