We’re officially one month into summer, and what better way to celebrate than with some exciting sports and activities in the wonderful, warm weather. Whether you’re going for a run, playing a game of pick-up, or participating in a sports league, it’s essential that you take the steps needed to help you properly warm-up and cool-down. Here are some stretches that will ensure safe and healthy outdoor exercising!
1) Seated Hamstring Stretch
Before and after exercising, it’s important to make sure your hamstrings are loose and flexible. Doing so will help prevent injuries and back pain, as well as improve your overall range of motion. As the hamstrings are very susceptible to injuries, stretching them out will help avoid strains and muscle tears. Here are the steps to the Seated Hamstring Stretch:
- Sit on a chair with your back straight and one leg extended. Make sure your heel is on the floor and your toes are pointing towards the ceiling.
- Bend your other leg so the sole of your foot is aligned with your mid-thigh.
- Reach your hand towards your ankle by bending forward at your hips and keeping your knee, neck, and back straight.
- Feel the stretch in the back of your thigh and hold for 15 to 30 seconds.
- Repeat 2 to 3 times.
The Cat-Cow Stretch involves moving the spine from a rounded position to an arched one. Each move is done in conjunction with either an inhale or exhale of the breath. This stretch can be done as a warm-up, relaxation, or back pain prevention technique, and is great for improving the circulation of discs within your back. It also helps with maintaining a healthy spine, along with improving your posture and balance. As the stretches are linked to your breathing, they are known to be good stress-relievers, as well as relaxing and calming poses. Here’s how to properly perform the Cat-Cow Stretch:
- Begin on your hands and knees in a tabletop position.
- Inhale and tilt your pelvis back so your tailbone sticks up.
- Let this movement ripple from your tailbone up to your spine, so that your neck is the last part to move.
- As your belly drops down, keep your abdominal muscles hugging your spine by drawing your navel in.
- Take your gaze gently up toward the ceiling without cranking your neck.
- Exhale and do a round of the Cow Stretch.
- Press your pelvis forward and tuck your tailbone in. Again, let this action move up your spine, and your spine will naturally round.
- Draw your navel toward your spine and drop your head.
- Take your gaze to your navel.
- Repeat the Cat-Cow Stretch on each inhale and exhale, matching the movement of your breathing.
- Continue for 5 to 10 breathes.
3) Child’s Pose
Child’s pose is a gentle but effective stretch for your back, hips, thighs, and ankles. It allows the body to take a moment of rest, reconnect with your breathing, and prepare yourself to move forward. Here are the steps for Child’s Pose:
- Begin on your hands and knees, and center your breath.
- Spread your knees wide apart, while keeping your big toes touching.
- Rest your buttocks on our heels, your belly between your thighs, and your forehead on the floor. Relax your shoulders and the rest of your body.
- Keep your arms long and extended with your palms facing down.
- For deeper relaxation, bring your arms back to rest alongside your thighs with your palms facing up and your elbows relaxed.
- Let your back relax and let all tension in your shoulder, arms, and neck fade away.
- Keep your gaze drawn inward with your eyes closed.
- Hold for as long as you would like (around a minute) and focus on the inhale and exhales of your breath.
4) Thread the Needle
Last but not least, thread the needle. Thread the needle is a stretch that opens the shoulders and joints, as well as stretches the spine. It helps relieve chronic shoulder and back pain and is a great warm-up before upper-body workouts. Here’s how to do the Thread-the-Needle Stretch:
- Start in a tabletop position with all fours on the ground.
- Place your hips directly above your knees and position your left wrist, elbow, and shoulder in a straight line perpendicular to the ground.
- Lift your left hand up, sending your gaze up with it, and then follow your left hand down as you thread it beneath your right arm.
- Sink into the stretch by keeping your hips high, while allowing your chest to come close to the ground.
- Hold the position as long as you would like (a few seconds up to a minute) and then switch sides.
- To come out of the stretch, press firmly into your palm and slowly unthread your arm reaching back up towards the sky. Return your hand down to the ground, back into a tabletop position. Repeat on the other side.
As stretching is an important part of both warming-up and cooling down, we hope this blog provided you with important stretches that will ensure safe and healthy outdoor exercising. If you need additional support with properly executing your stretches and exercises, LiveWell Health and Physiotherapy has you covered. Check out our services to learn how our team can provide you with the therapy, tools, and support needed to have your body moving in proper function. Also, feel free to contact us to book an appointment at our Lancaster, Waterloo, Driftwood, or Baden locations. Our team looks forward to supporting you in your health and rehabilitation!
Want more lifestyle advice on how to improve your health and wellness? Contact our LiveWell Health and Physiotherapy Kitchener (Lancaster and Driftwood), Baden, or Waterloo teams for more information and to book your next appointment. You can also reach out to us by email or social media, and one of our team members will be more than happy to answer any of your questions! All of our practitioners have tips and expert guidance to help improve your health and overall quality of your life.