Here are some basic pre- and post-workout stretching exercises. As a personal trainer and coach it is my desire to help my clients strengthen their cores and get in shape for long and healthy lives. These exercises can be performed 2-3 times a week no matter where your travels take you, as long as you have access to a carpeted floor or mat. As your core improves, you will find it easier to do your daily tasks and physical activities. You will also notice improved posture, a stronger back and an overall sense of improved muscle support. Do your stretches, work your core, and eat a healthy food diet and you’ll find your belly fat shrinking as your performance improves. Start by adding some of these exercises into your daily routine:
Standing Warm ups: 10 minutes – one set, 10-15 reps on each side
- Standing leg swing – 1 leg at a time.
- Standing bicycle peddling – 1 leg at a time.
- Tennis Match – swivel head from side to side as though watching a tennis ball volley back and forth across a net
- Apple Pickers – reach above your head, one arm at a time as though you’re picking apples off a tree.
- Half Jacks – jumping jacks without the jump, moving arms only.
- Soccer kicks low and sweeping.
- Arm Circles – front and back.
- Side bends.
- Knee/toe touches.
- Shoulder rolls followed by shrugs.
- Torso Twist helicopter – slowly twist and swing arms and torso to each side.
- Neck Leans – with head centered, slowly lean to each side, front and back holding the lean for 10-12 seconds each side. Return to center each time.
- Hula pelvic circles each side.
- Swim strokes – Vary some dry land swim strokes such as the crawl, breast and backstroke.
- Boxing – Vary punches straight, up and undercuts.
- March – lift knees hip high and march around straight or in circle.
- Snow Angels – while standing
- Butt kicks – in place or walking try to imagine your heel kicking your butt.
- Standing Wood Chops – standing with feet shoulder and interlock your fingers – swing hands over your head as though chopping a piece of wood in front of you.
- Single hip circles with one bent knee, sweep from center to out to open your hip.
- Blowing tree — raise both arms above your head and slowly lean to your left then your right so that you feel a stretch along the sides of your body.
- Gas Pedal – point and flex your foot as though pushing then backing off a gas pedal
Post Work-Out Stretching
- Knee swish or Segmental Rotation – lying on your back with your knees bent and your back in a neutral position, tighten your abdominal muscles. Keep your shoulders on the floor let your knees fall slowly to the each side and hold. Go only as far as is comfortable. You should feel a stretch, but no pain. Return to the start position.
- Quad Stretch — lying flat on your stomach or standing tall and using a chair or the wall as needed, bend one knee and reach behind and grab onto your ankle. Slowly pull your knee toward your rear until you feel a stretch in your thigh. Repeat on the other side.
- Cat/Camel – on all fours, arch your back like a cat and then let it sag like a camel.
- The Cobra – lying flat on your stomach, forehead to floor, with arms straight out in front of you, slide your arms as you slowly raise your upper torso and slowly arch your back. Then slowly bring the upper torso back down to the floor. Do not over arch, and stop if there’s pain. May be modified to elbows.
- Knee to chest – lie on your back with one leg straight then bend one knee up towards chest and grab the underside of that knee and repeat both sides.
- Rolling egg – lie on your back with knees bent to chest. While hugging knees, rock back and forth.
- Number Four – lie on your back and bend your knees. Cross your leg one on top of the other knee so that is looks like the number 4 when you have them crossed. Reach in the circle of the 4 and grab behind your knee pulling it in towards your chest as you stretch.
- Choker – place right hand on left shoulder, then with left hand, gently press your right elbow toward your throat and hold
- Picture Frame – extend arms in front of you and place your hands on opposite elbows then left your arms as high over your head as you can as though framing your face in a picture frame.
- Zipper – stretch right hand over your shoulder and down your back, then stretch left hand behind and up your back and try to grab your fingertips.
- Hold up Pec Stretch – place hands behind your head and stretch elbows back behind your head and hold.
- Hurdlers Modified Stretch – sit with one leg out and the other flexed in with the sole of your foot touching the inside knee. Lean towards the stretched leg and hold.
- Pretzel – put one leg over the other and slowly twist to the opposite side with your arms.
- Ankle Circles – slowly roll each ankle around and then point and flex.
- Butterfly Groin Stretch – put soles of feet together, gently lean forward as you hold onto your ankles.
Shake it out and hydrate – good job!
Before beginning any new exercise program always consult your doctor. If you experience any discomfort stop the exercise or try doing a modified version. Most of all know that “when you’re moving you’re improving.” That’s a guarantee!