Smooth Fitness Blog

Decrease Your Chance of Injury During Exercise by Lengthening Muscles

June 1st, 2010

There’s a lot of talk about different styles of exercise.  Usually, conversation focuses on what type of workout will help to shed the most fat or build the most muscle.  However, there is another type of exercise that’s very important and often overlooked.  That is stretching.  The greatest benefit of stretching is increased muscle length.  When the length of a muscle is increased, it’s able to move safely through a greater range of motion.  This increased range of motion prevents injuries.  That’s the bottom line.  Decreasing my chance of injury is more than enough to get me to add stretching into my daily routine.

It would be wonderful if stretching every day were realistic for everybody.  However, most people are already trying to fit exercise into a very hectic schedule.  Therefore, I recommend stretching be included at a minimum of every other day.  My clients feel much more flexible even when we are able to stretch only 2 times per week.

I’ve included a basic but very effective 10 minute stretching routine below.  Include this routine into your regime every other day to aid in the lengthening of your muscles.  You’ll be glad you did.

Hold each stretch in a static position for 15 seconds then move on to the next one.  Work through the entire list at least once, but two times if possible.  Be careful not to bounce.  Once you settle into the hold position stay there for the entire 15 seconds.

Stretch 1:  Hamstring Stretch

  • Begin seated on floor with left leg straight out and right foot tucked in against left inner thigh
  • While keeping the back straight, reach as closely to left foot as possible
  • The goal is to grab left foot  If unable to grab the foot, the goal should be to reach as close as possible
  • Every time this stretch is performed, an attempt should be made to get a little closer than the last time
  • Hold this position for 15 seconds
  • Repeat on opposite side

Stretch 2:  Inner Thigh Stretch

  • Sit with buttocks on the ground
  • The knees are bent and the bottoms of the feet are together in front the body
  • While keeping the back as straight as possible, place the elbows on the knees
  • While maintaining a straight back, lean forward at the waist and press the knees apart with the elbows
  • Hold this position for 15 seconds

Stretch 3:  Quadriceps Stretch

  • Lie on the left side with the head resting on the left hand
  • The left leg will be flat on the ground and extended straight
  • Bend the right knee and grab the right ankle with the right hand
  • Pull right foot as close to buttocks as possible
  • Hold this position for 15 seconds
  • Repeat on opposite side

Stretch 4:  Gluteus and Low Back Twist

  • Sit on ground with left leg straight in front of body
  • With the right knee bent, cross the right leg over the left and place the bottom of the right foot flat on the ground
  • Place the left elbow on the outside of the right knee
  • Place the right hand on the ground behind the body
  • Pushing off the right knee with the left elbow, twist around until you are looking behind you
  • Hold this position for 15 seconds
  • Repeat on opposite side

Stretch 5:  Low Back Stretch

  • Lie flat on the back
  • With the legs together, grab behind the knees
  • Pull the knees into the chest
  • The head should stay flat on the ground
  • The buttocks should lift very slightly off the ground
  • Hold this position for 15 seconds

Stretch 6: Chest Stretch

  • Begin standing with feet placed evenly on the ground, shoulder width apart
  • Lift left arm to shoulder height with palm facing forward
  • Place palm of left hand on any immovable object such as a doorway
  • Gently turn shoulders to the right
  • Hold this position for 15 seconds
  • Repeat on opposite side

Stretch 7: Upper Back and Triceps Stretch

  • Stand with feet shoulder width apart with a slight bend in knees
  • Extend the left arm straight up over the head
  • Bend the left arm
  • Place the right hand on the left elbow
  • While maintaining the bend in the left elbow, pull it slightly behind the head until mild discomfort is felt in triceps of left arm
  • Hold this position for 15 seconds
  • Repeat on opposite side

Stretch 8:  Rear Deltoid Stretch

  • Stand with feet shoulder width apart with a slight bend in the knees
  • While keeping the right arm straight, extend it across the chest
  • Place the left hand above the right elbow and pull right arm across the body
  • Hold this position for 15 seconds
  • Repeat on opposite side

Stretch 9: Superman

  • This is actually a low back strengthening exercise but it fits nicely into this stretch routine
  • Lie flat on stomach with arms extended over head
  • Lift both arms and legs just a few inches away from the floor
  • Hold for 15 seconds
  • Beginners may want to work each side separately
  • If you are a beginner, lift the opposite arm and opposite leg
  • Hold for 15 seconds
  • Repeat on opposite side

Stretch 10: Calf Stretch

  • Begin with the left leg forward with the knee bent
  • Body weight should be braced against solid object
  • The right leg is extended straight behind the body
  • The right heel is flat on the ground
  • Body weight should be centered over the front leg
  • Stretch should be felt on the back of the lower leg
  • Hold this position for 15 seconds
  • Repeat on opposite side

By: Jim Bompensa

Jim Bompensa has been a health club owner and manager, personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and nutrition specialist for the nearly 15 years. He is currently the owner/operator of Body Physics Fitness Center in Haddonfield, NJ. Jim has appeared and contributed on ABC and NBC in Philadelphia, PA as well as Designing Spaces on TLC.

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