Daily Stretch Routine
I stretch on a near daily basis to keep things loose. My daily stretch routine usually takes me about 30 minutes, and I try to do it shortly before bed in a quiet room with minimal noises to help relax me before hitting the pillow.
All stretches are held for a slow count of 5, or 5 deep breaths. I start off with upper body, and then spend most of the time working lower body. Most of these stretches were influenced from taking Kempo when I was younger and ashtonga yoga. Remember to take deep breaths, especially during the difficult ones – Your breathing shouldn’t be labored, but it shouldn’t be so easy that you barely noticed it. As with all workouts, form is priority! As you will notice, there is a lot of hip stretching since I have tight ITB’s and hips. Keep in mind that this is a routine that I developed for ME, and may not be as beneficial for you. Feel free to switch it up!
Also note that in keeping with the amateurendurance.com theme, these pics are very amateur as well!
Shoulder/Chest: find a wall (or something similar) to hold onto with an open palm facing away from you, and then rotate your upper body away from the hand. Try to keep your hips facing forward.
Rear Shoulder: Conversely to the above, bring your arm across your chest, and with your other arm, bring your elbow closer to your chest.
Shoulder/Lat: Simply raise your arms, and try to stretch your shoulders and lats. Try to focus on stretching from the core, rather than just your arms.
Triceps: from the previous position, just bend an below with your other arm, press your elbow down.
Shoulder opener: I personally like to lean over at the hips and do this (pictured), but you don’t have to. You could also find a counter, place your hands face down on it, and simply lower yourself.
Hamstrings #1: Keep your angles touching, bend over at the hip, and try to keep legs as straight as possible. If this puts strain on your lower back, a great alternative is to raise your leg on top of a table or counter, and simply bend over. You should be feeling this only in your hamstrings.
Hamstrings #2: Spread your legs to hips distance apart, or slightly wider and do the same as above.
Hamstrings/Soleus: Get into a wide stance, keep your feet facing forward (important), and bend at the hips. For extra credit, try positioning your hands as below. You should be feeling this in the hamstrings, and soleus (outside muscles of the calves). If possible, try to engage (ie. flex) your quads.
Hamstrings/Hips/Groin: Similar position as above, only sitting on the floor. You should try to reach forward from the hips, stretch your arms out, and try to get your chest to touch the floor (aim for it, but realistically, it’s really hard!)
Hamstrings #3: Bend one leg at the knee, and keep it at 90 degrees from the rest of your body. You may have to give yourself a easy twist at the hips to try and keep your spine in line with your leg. Try to touch your chest to your quad (eventually).
Hamstrings/Hips/Groin #2: Bring your feet in, try to open your feet up (like a book), and if possible, place your elbows on the inside of your knees and push down. You should be feeling this in the inside of your hips.
Quads: Bend your knees 180 degrees, sit on your calves, and simply lean back until it is no longer comfortable, or there is strain on your lower back.
Quad/Hips: This is like a lunge position. The key to this position is to keep the back leg engaged (firm), while allow yourself to “fall” into your forward leg. You should be feeling this in the top of the hamstring and the hip of the front leg, and quad of the rear leg. You should also try to keep your forward knee hugged against your arm/shoulder.
Quad/Hips #2. Bring your back knee to the ground, and have your foot pointed backwards. If possible try to bring your upper body to the ground, even if it means just resting your elbows on the ground.
Quad Hips #3 (Extra Credit): Similar to above position, but bow your front leg outwards.
Outside Hips #1: Sitting down, bring one leg up (Leg A), bend at the knee, and allow the (Leg A) ankle to touch the top of the other (Leg B) knee. For added stretch, bring Leg B closer to your chest. Focus on trying to open the outside of your (Leg A) hip. Important: keep your foot flexed (not limp)
Outside Hips #2: While in this position, simply rotate your hips off to the side so that the ITB of Leg B is now on the ground, and that the bottom of the Leg A foot is on the ground. Now, twist your hips in the opposite direction of your legs, and bring Arm B to the outside of Leg A.
Outside Hips #2 (Extra Credit): In yoga, perform a “bind”: bring Arm B through your legs, bring Arm A around your torso, and clasp hands.
Outside Hips #3 (Extra Credit): This can be done in addition to, or instead of Outside Hips #1. From a standing position, cross Leg A over Leg B, and act as if you are going to sit in a chair behind you. Remember to keep your foot flexed. For additional extra credit, let your upper body hang over your legs, and try to touch the ground.
Outside hips #4 (Extra Credit): Known as pigeon pose in yoga, this can be a complicated position, and is difficult for people with tight hips (like myself). Start like this:
Bring Leg A up, and bend at the knee. Now place the outside of Leg A on the ground. The tighter your hip is, the more you will have to bend your knee.
You can keep your elbows on the ground, or let your upper body hang over Leg A.
Hip Opener/Indigenous Squat: This pose helps open the inside hips, and ideally, you will have your legs a little closer together, and your feet pointed more forward (which will also stretch the quads). Basically, find a comfortable stance, squat down, and with the right balance, don’t fall over! I keep my hands in a prayer position to keep me balanced.
And there you go – that is my daily stretch routine. There is a lot of focus on the hips because I have tight hips, and as pointed out in my previous article on stretching – keeping hip muscles loose may help prevent injuries.
As with starting new, don’t try to push it too early in the stretch, and do too much in general – ease into it. You may also find other stretches work better for you, or some of these may not work at all for you.
Written by Ryan Denner
Published: Sep 08, 2008