For many of us, stretching is always on the back burner. It is time to reroute this mentality and to start viewing stretching as just as much of an essential to our health and fitness as working out and eating clean.
While it stands a cliche, the beginning of a New Year is the perfect time to create new habits and initiate lifestyle change. For 2021, prioritize stretching and know that doing so only promotes the other health and fitness goals that you have set for yourself.
Check out the following 5 dynamic stretching combos that are sure to get you feeling right this January. Incorporate these stretches into your pre and post-workout routine and be sure to put them to the test on your rest days! Your mind and body will reap the benefits!
While the inchworm and its multiple variations can be used as a cardiovascular and strength-building exercise, when completed slowly and in its most basic form, it is a go-to dynamic stretch that poses benefits to both your upper and lower body. To start, reach your hands towards the ground and don’t hesitate to generously bend your knees here. Once your hands have made contact with the floor, begin to crawl your hands out to position your body in a plank position. Once you reach the plank, you can wiggle your hips from side to side before slightly bending your knees and slowly working your hands back closer to your body. Once your hands are positioned back at your feet, bend your knees again and slowly roll back up to standing.
FRONT LUNGE TO HALF SPLIT
This dynamic stretch combo is a fun one. Position yourself in a forward lunge with either leg in front of you. Sit here for a minute and embrace any discomfort you are experiencing in your hip flexor (this should not be painful). From here, lower your back knee to the ground, place your hands on either side of your hips, and begin to shift your weight towards your back leg. Your back should be flat, not rounded, and your front leg should begin to straighten out. Depending on your flexibility, your front leg may not elongate all of the way and your hands may not be flat on the ground. If you have access to yoga blocks or items of a similar shape and size, you can place one under each of your palms to reduce the distance between your hands and the floor. From the half split, slowly move your weight back into the front foot to reposition yourself in your front lunge. Do this flow a couple of times and switch to the other side. You should feel your hips and hamstrings loosening up with each repetition.
KNEE TO CHEST & ANKLE ROLLS
This dynamic stretch combo is rooted in the basics and will work to loosen up your hamstring, hip flexors, and ankles. Standing straight up, move your weight to one standing leg and begin to lift the other to your chest with the knee leading. Once you are balancing and your knee is near your chest, gently wrap your arms around the outside of your shin. Place your hands wherever feels natural. From there, you can use your upper body strength to aid the stretch by moving your knee in small circles. Take the time here to also conduct ankle rolls, moving your foot clockwise for a couple of repetitions and then counterclockwise. Safely return your bent leg to the ground and do the same on the other side.
CROSSBODY ARM STRETCH
When our upper bodies are sore, we tend to carry tension through our arm muscles, shoulders, neck, and back. This can make simple daily activities more difficult and can also negatively impact our posture. To dismantle some of this tension, try out this crossbody arm stretch. With your shoulders down and back, take one arm across your body and keep it parallel to the ground. Your arm should be straight and close to your chest. Use your opposite arm to gently pull the arm across your body closer to your chest. You should feel this in the tricep, shoulder blades, and upper back. After a 10 second hold, release your arms and return to the same position on the same side. Do this a couple of times through before switching to the other side. You should feel these muscles loosen up every time through.
COBRA TO CHILD’S POSE
Yogis will be familiar with this dynamic stretch, others may find themselves in cobra and child’s pose for the first time. The combination of these dynamic stretches will loosen up your upper and lower back, shoulders, abdominals, and neck, while simultaneously building strength in those same areas. Begin laying down flat on your stomach and plant the palms of your hands next to your shoulders. Your elbows should be pointing towards the ceiling. From here, use your back muscles to lift your head, neck, and upper body off of the ground. To take the stretch a bit further and to target your abdominal muscles, use your arm strength to press your chest up even higher, reducing the bend in your elbows to whatever degree feels most comfortable. Begin to bend your elbows and return your chest to the ground. From here, use your arm strength to push your upper body back so that you can bend at the hips and knees to enter the child’s pose. Your knees can be directly under your chest or they can rest just outside of either side of your abdomen. Reach your chest and arms forward, allowing you to feel the stretch in your shoulders, back, and side body. Move from child’s pose back to cobra and complete the same flow a couple of times. This dynamic stretch combo should relieve full-body tension and should also be freeing for the mind!