Saturday, January 7, 2012

Full Body Toning Stretching Workouts

Many people don't place an appropriate importance on stretching in their fitness regimen. Stretching not only improves flexibility, it results in increased range of motion and it can prevent injury. Stretching should be done every day, but only after a thorough warm-up. Don't rush your stretching. Hold each stretch for 30 to 60 seconds. For maximum benefit, repeat each stretch two to three times.
Neck Stretch
In a seated or standing position with your face forward, lower your right ear to your right shoulder. Lift your right arm and gently apply pressure to the left side of your head increasing the stretch to your neck. Your left arm should dangle at your side with finger tips pointing toward the ground. Repeat to the other side.
Upper Back Stretch
Seated or standing, clasp your hands in front of your chest, interlacing your fingers. Turn your palms away from you as your extend your arms straight out in front of you at chest level. Drop your head to look down and the ground, and reach your hands farther away from you, increasing the distance between your shoulder blades and stretching your upper back muscles.
Chest Stretch
The best way to do this stretch is with a partner. Stand in front of your partner and extend your arms behind you. Have your partner grab your wrists and pull your arms together. When you arms are as close together as they go, your partner should lift your arms up toward the ceiling. You can also do this stretch by yourself. Grasp a towel behind your back with your hands as close together as possible, and lift your towel up to the ceiling. For either stretch, keep your chin up off your chest and your shoulders relaxed.
Shoulder Stretch
Stand or sit down for this stretch. Cross your right arm in front of your body and point your fingers to the left of you. Your palm should be facing behind you. Use your left hand to grab your right arm at the forearm or the bicep. Do not pull on the elbow joint directly. Pull your arm in toward your body stretching the shoulder. To intensify the stretch, turn your head to look out over your right shoulder. Repeat to the left side as well. After each side, shake the arms out a little to relax your muscles.
Triceps Stretch
From a standing or seated position, extend your right arm above your head and point your hand up to the ceiling. Use your left hand to grab your right arm. Grab near the elbow on the bicep side, but not on the elbow directly. Bend your arm behind your head pointing your fingers down between your shoulder blades. Increase the stretch by gently applying pressure to the right arm with your left hand. Do not push your head forward in this stretch.
Hamstring Stretch
Standing with most of your weight in your left foot, extend your right foot in front of you with your heel pressed into the ground and your toe off the ground. Your left leg should be bent and your hands should be on the thigh of your left leg. Keeping your right leg straight, lean your chest toward your right leg stretching the back of your thigh. Make sure to repeat this stretch on the other leg.
Quadriceps Stretch
Stand near a wall or chair, using your left hand for support. Lift your right leg in the air and grab the front of your right foot. Do not grab the toes. Pull your foot in toward your rear end stretching the front of your thigh. Your right knee should point straight to the ground and keep your torso tall during the entire stretch. Turn and repeat on the left leg.
Calf Stretch
Turn toward the wall and place both hands against it. Extend your right leg out behind you. The toes of both of your feet should point directly at the wall. Your right leg should be straight, and your right heel should press into the ground. Lean forward slightly toward the wall stretching your calf muscles. Repeat with the left leg. Next repeat the same stretch on both sides with a bent back leg. Do not allow your heel to lift off the ground as you focus the stretch deeper in your calf.
Side Stretch
Stand tall with your feet about shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Pull your abdominal muscles in toward your spine. Lift your right arm up in the air, as your left arm extends down along the outside of your left thigh. Reach up and over to the left side with the right arm, while you slide your left hand down your thigh closer to your knee. Turn your head to look up past your elbow and to the ceiling. Repeat to the left side.
Back Stretch
Lower down to the ground on your hands and knees. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders. Your knees should be directly under your hips. Arch your back up by pulling your abdominal muscles in and dropping your head to look at your thighs. Hold this position for one inhalation and one exhalation before allowing your belly button to droop toward the ground. Lift your face up to the ceiling and relax your abdominal muscles. Again hold for one breath cycle. Repeat this sequence back and forth several times.

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