With gyms closed and outdoor exercise banned during the 5-week lockdown, we’re all moving less than usual.
Faced with this new normal, it’s vital to work in set periods of activity to break up all that time spent sitting at your makeshift workspace at home, or the hours spent on the couch binge-watching your favourite series.
And when you finally get up to get active, don’t forget to stretch! Now more than ever, it’s vital to counter the impact of long periods of inactivity, especially before any high-intensity at-home workout to reduce your injury risk.
READ MORE: 5 ways you’re fast-tracking injury
The importance of stretching
Stretching improves mobility, maintains tissue elasticity and muscle tone, creates balance between the body’s muscle groups, and ensures that stiff muscles don’t limit your range of movement. Stretching also helps to expand the muscle fascia and can aid the recovery process.
Of course, many people consider stretching a chore and opt to forgo this important element in a holistic workout plan. But rather than ditch the stretching altogether, why not economise your approach?
To ensure you get at least some form of stretching in once a day during the lockdown, here are 4 quick and easy stretches that you can do in just three minutes to target almost every major muscle group in your body.
Prone chest and quad stretch
Muscles targeted: Quads, abdominals and pectorals
How to do it:
- Lie face down on the floor.
- Press your hips firmly into the floor and bring both feet up towards your buttocks.
- Reach back and grasp both ankles.
- Raise your upper torso so that it lifts off the ground.
- When your upper torso is fully extended, pull your feet into your buttocks.
- Hold this position for 30-60 seconds.
Standing chest and calf stretch
Muscles targeted: Pectorals and calves
How to do it:
- Position yourself slightly in front of an open doorway or between two upright structures. Position your arms out to the side.
- Bend your elbows and lift your arms, so that your upper arm is parallel with the ground and in line with your shoulders. The palms of your hands should face forward.
- Take a big step back with your right leg, into a semi-lunge position. Your right leg should form a 45-degree angle with the floor and your heel should be flat on the ground.
- You should feel a stretch in the calf.
- At the same time, push your chest forward to feel a stretch in your pectoral muscles.
- Hold for 15-30 seconds and then swop legs, for a total of 30-60 seconds.
Kneeling hip flexor and overhead tricep stretch
Muscle targeted: Hip flexor (iliopsoas), glutes and triceps
How to do it:
- From a kneeling position, place your right foot out in front of you so that your leg forms a 90-degree angle.
- Slowly lean forward into your right leg, keeping your left knee in contact with the ground.
- At the same time, extend your right arm overhead and position your forearm as close as possible to your upper arm.
- Grasp your elbow overhead with your left hand and pull your elbow back towards your head.
- Hold this position for 30-60 seconds and then release. Repeat with the left leg and arm.
Seated hamstring and horizontal adduction shoulder stretch
Muscles targeted: Hamstrings and lateral deltoid
How to do it:
- Sit on the ground with both legs straight out in front of you. Bend your left leg and place the sole of your left foot alongside the knee of your right leg.
- Allow the right leg to lie fully outstretched and relaxed on the ground. At the same time, place your right arm across the front of your chest so that it is parallel with the floor.
- Place your left forearm over your right arm at the elbow and use it to ease the right arm closer to your chest. At this point, flex your torso forward at the hips, keeping a straight back, to stretch your right hamstring and right lateral deltoid at the same time.
- Hold for 30-60 seconds then swap sides and repeat.
Exercises demonstrated by Carel Bosman.