Stretching Exercises to Make the Body Flexible

by Crystal Welch

About Crystal Welch

Crystal Welch has a 30-year writing history. Her more than 2,000 published works have been included in the health and fitness-related Wellness Directory, Earthdance Press and Higher Source. She is an award-winning writer who teaches whole foods cooking and has written a cookbook series. She operates an HON-code-certified health-related blog with more than 95,000 readers. Welch has a B.B.A. from Eastern Michigan University.

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In addition to getting your body ready for exercise, stretching can reduce your risk of injuries by keeping your joints and muscles fluid, provides a relaxing way to end workouts and helps your body recover after aerobic activities, according to the American Heart Association. For optimal results, perform stretches gently, without sudden movements, and consult a doctor before starting a stretching routine, especially if your have an injury or medical condition.

Upright Stretching

Standing stretches can prep your body for more intense exercise. As part of your warm-up routine, these stretches will increase your heart rate faster than floor stretches. For example, try a leg-stretching exercise. Stand facing a wall. Slowly lift your right foot and bring your heel to your buttock. Grab hold of your right ankle with your right hand and place your left hand on the wall for stability. Gently pull on your ankle until you feel a mild stretch in your right thigh. Hold this stretch 10 seconds. Slowly return your leg to the original position. Relax 10 seconds and repeat.

Chair Stretching

You can stretch while sitting in a chair, whether a wheelchair or fixed, firm chair. Maintaining flexibility in your spine and neck makes movements such as looking behind you, moving your upper body and bending over easier. Keep your spinal column and neck flexible by doing a seated spinal rotation. Sit upright in your chair. Lift your left arm over the back of your chair's left side. Rotate your upper body and place your right hand onto your chair's left armrest. Slowly turn your neck and look over your left shoulder. Hold this position for 15 seconds while you move your eyes to the center position, then to the right and back to the center. Slowly return your body to the original position. Relax 10 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.

Floor Stretching

Floor stretches provide a relaxing way to let your muscles cool down after aerobic workout routines while letting your heart rate return to normal. You can stretch out your lower back area by lying on your back on an exercise mat or floor. Bend your knees and place the soles of your feet are firmly on the surface. Tighten both your abdominal and hip muscles while flattening your lower back against the surface. Hold this tension for 10 seconds. Release the tension and relax 10 seconds, then repeat.

Aqua Stretching

Some people may be unable to perform land-based exercises comfortably due to physical constraints or pain. Water stretching exercises take pressure off the joints, making movements easier and less painful than those done on land. For example, you can keep your shoulder joint flexible by doing some arm overheads while either sitting or standing in shoulder-deep water. Lift both arms overhead and hold for 10 seconds. Return to original position. Relax 10 seconds, then repeat.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.