When it comes to fitness, the majority of us want to build our biceps, get those washboard abs and – for those who don’t skip leg day – a set of thighs that will allow us to squat obscene amounts of weight. But how many of us pay attention to how flexible we are?
Stretching is a vital part of fitness, but can sometimes be overlooked. We all know it’s important to warm up before exercising, but dedicating a good 45 minutes to an hour to stretch our bodies out has myriad benefits. Not only can it help prevent any injuries, but it can improve our posture and our general wellbeing overall.
Not only that, but healthy, stretched muscles become stronger, which in turn allows us to lift heavier weights. It’s a fitness marriage, of sorts.
So how do you get flexy? We spoke to Ben Lucas, Director of Flow Athletic and former Cronulla Sharks NRL player to find out.
One of the best tests to determine how flexible you really are is by touching your toes (or attempting to, at least). Ben agrees, and says, “Being stuck in isolation is a perfect time to start working on your flexibility, and being able to touch your toes in two weeks is completely realistic.”
“If you can’t do it standing, why not try sitting. Sit up straight with your legs straight out in front of you. Suck in your core and slowly reach towards your toes. Try this a few times.”
If you still can’t manage to touch them, Ben has some other solutions. “V your legs out in front of you quickly, try with both arms to reach to one leg and grab it for a stretch and then the other. With your legs V’d out, they should be closer to you.”
“You could also try doing a frog squat. Have your arms in front of you on the ground, then stretch your legs out straight as you bend forward and try to touch the ground. This is possibly easier as your legs are slightly split so you have less distance to get to the ground.”
“Practice these until you can bring your feet together to touch your toes.”
If you’re already a master toe-toucher, then it’s time to add some new stretches into your routine. We previously spoke to Dean Jamieson, owner and head trainer of Lean Performance Gym in Taren Point, Sydney. He told us about his three favourite stretches and the ones that will help prevent back pain.
They include the ‘world’s greatest stretch’, which has you starting in a push-up position. From there, bring one foot up towards your shoulder, and then drop your arm (the same side as the foot you’ve moved up) onto your elbow and hold for around 10 seconds. Part two of the stretch is to then extend that same arm up above you while twisting your body and then swing it back around and under your body, before swinging back up again. Complete for 10 reps.
Other moves include the deep squat and the couch stretch, and you can read more about those here.
So next time you don the gym gear at home, don’t automatically go for the sofa to lift it or carry out some tricep dips. Get out a yoga mat, get down, and stretch yourself out instead. Your body will thank you.