I have to confess it. Yes, I admit that during years of training, I never did stretching exercises. In other words, no stretching, no flexibility exercise.
Neither for tennis, nor for bodybuilding, and even less for bowling or knitting... That's to say. But I regret it (well maybe not for knitting). And yet, stretching feels so good!
Some have understood this long before me:
Besides, women who love cats have tried to do the same, but they are a little less flexible 😀
In March 2017, one of the readers of this blog named François wrote to me:
I haven't read all of your super interesting blog yet, but I couldn't find any articles on stretching exercises, the importance of flexibility, etc. Can you tell me where you talk about it and/or do you plan to address these topics soon?
I promised to think about the matter and I keep my word. Here is the result of my work.
I would like to point out that I have already used and that I still use these exercises. I include them in my program once a week, on a non-weight training day reserved for muscle recovery.
Table of Contents
- Why a flexibility exercise is so good
- Flexibility exercise 1: The back of the neck
- Flexibility exercise 2: The side of the neck
- Flexibility exercise 3: The splenius capitis and cervicis muscles
- Flexibility exercise 4: The back of the shoulders
- Flexibility exercise 5: Upper and lower back
- Flexibility Exercise 6: Pectorals
- Flexibility Exercise 7: Salute to the Sun
- Stretching exercise 8: Spine
- Stretch 9: Back of hips and buttocks
- Flexibility Exercise 10: Hips
- Stretching Exercise 11: Hamstrings
- Stretching exercise 12: Triceps
- Want to know more about stretching?
- Flexibility Exercise: Conclusion
- Lose weight without waiting
Why a flexibility exercise is so good
Enjoy a massage session every week, would you like it? If you could afford it, no doubt so...
Well, know that there are stretches you can do at home that will make you feel as good as after a real massage session. I promise you ! Alright, almost as well.
By doing these flexibility exercises, you'll target your hips, neck, shoulders, back, and more. With incredible sensations as a bonus.
When doing these movements, be as intuitive as possible. That's the advice given by Wil Lewis, a professional masseur based in New York. He explains: “Every body is different. Move yours subtly and intuitively during each stretch to find the angles and positions it needs most. »
For people like me who are approaching or over 50, stretching exercises are a real makeover.
The first 3 concern the neck and the nape of the neck. They are important because many headaches are caused by these muscles.
So here is the list of 12 stretching exercises that I recommend to each of you:
Flexibility exercise 1: The back of the neck
Due to my osteoarthritis problems, it is a postural exercise that I use regularly to relax the muscles by the neck.
Let your head tilt towards your chest. Cross your fingers behind your neck (not your head).
As you slowly count to 20 or 30, try to raise your head as your hands pull your neck down to the floor.
Slowly release at the end of the count.
You can do this exercise sitting or standing. It is therefore possible to use it when you work in the office.
I'm sure you'll feel a positive effect on your neck right away. This exercise will quickly improve your posture.
Flexibility exercise 2: The side of the neck
This stretch will target the side muscles of your neck.
Photo 1 shows you that you must first bring your head back to reveal your double chin.
Next, you drop your right ear towards your shoulder while applying pressure to your chin with your right index finger.
Hold the position for 30 to 60 seconds before switching sides.
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Flexibility exercise 3: The splenius capitis and cervicis muscles
No, don't worry, I'm not insulting you. No doubt in your everyday language, you would simply say the neck.
In reality, this neck muscle is made up of 2 parts: the splenius muscles of the head (splenius capitis) and the splenius muscles of the neck (splenius cervicis). It might remind you of old Latin lessons…
It was necessary to follow the courses rather than to skip them! That'll teach you.
These relaxations are extremely important because these muscles are the source of many headaches.
The move might feel a little weird to you, but it will do you a lot of good. However, I wouldn't dare to say that it will make you "feel good" 😉 .
You will understand as you read on…
How to soften the splenius muscles:
Bring your nose closer to your right armpit (yes, you got it right 😀 ).
Place your right hand on the back of your head, so that the weight of your arm naturally brings your nose to your armpit (without forcing).
Hold the position for 30 to 60 seconds. You will gradually feel the tension reduce in your neck.
Then do the same on the left side with the left arm.
Flexibility exercise 4: The back of the shoulders
This time I didn't want to put my photo because I look even more ridiculous than usual.
That's to say 😆!
Place your hands on your lower back, fingers interlocked and palms facing back. Bring your elbows forward while curling your spine, as if you wanted to greet Japanese style.
Stay in this position for 30 to 60 seconds while the muscles relax.
Flexibility exercise 5: Upper and lower back
This stretch is especially important to undo the devastating effects of long hours spent with your butt in a chair.
Start by spreading your legs wide enough. Lean forward and place your left hand flat on the floor.
The right hand comes to the back of your head. Raise your right elbow towards the ceiling by rotating your bust. Then do the opposite rotation so that your right elbow touches your left arm.
Repeat this movement 10 times before switching sides.
Flexibility Exercise 6: Pectorals
Imagine you want to hug a dozen friends at the same time!
You will try to extend your arms back as far as possible with your palms facing forward.
You can also tilt your head back to look at the ceiling at the same time. Hold the position for 60 seconds if possible.
Flexibility Exercise 7: Salute to the Sun
This one is my favourite! Do you know why ?
Because he's the one who cured me of my L5-S1 herniated disc in March 2016.
I know many readers will be skeptical, but it's the truth.
This type of position is recommended by Robin McKenzie (link to his site in English), a world-renowned back specialist. He has developed a healing protocol for certain back pathologies using different movements.
This one is the main way to cure a herniated disc, as I learned through practice in March 2016.
So yes, I love this stretch!
Lie face down with your hands at shoulder height. Your legs are extended and close together.
Push on your arms while blowing as if doing push-ups, but keeping your pelvis on the ground, or closest to the ground (I'm not very flexible at this level...).
Raise your head at the same time to look in front of you. Hold the position for 5 seconds then come back down. Repeat this movement 5 to 10 times.
Stretching exercise 8: Spine
This stretching exercise targets your spine, hip flexors and tensor muscles of the fascia lata.
Lie on your back with your arms outstretched.
Try to bring your right foot up to your left hand. Hold the position for 5 seconds then return to the initial position. Do the same on the other side.
Repeat the movement 5 times with each leg.
Stretch 9: Back of hips and buttocks
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
Bring your right ankle over your left knee. Cross your hands around your left thigh then bring it back towards your chest.
Hold the position for 30 to 60 seconds, then do the same on the other side.
To increase efficiency, you can also try bringing your right knee to your left shoulder, and vice versa.
Either way, choose a comfortable position to hold it long enough.
Flexibility Exercise 10: Hips
This stretch is great for those who run.
Take a big step forward with your right leg, as if doing a forward lunge.
Place your left hand on the floor, then your right hand so that it is aligned with your right shin.
Now lower your left knee to the ground 10 times keeping the rest of the body aligned, then switch sides.
Stretching Exercise 11: Hamstrings
This stretch is especially important for those who want hamstring muscles both powerful and flexible. This is the case of those who practice crossfit for example.
The hamstrings are the muscles at the back of the thighs.
Stand your feet about shoulder width apart. Keep your feet flat on the ground.
Squat like a squat until your butt almost touches the floor.
Grab the front of your shoes with your hands and slowly pull yourself up until your legs are straight without letting go of your shoes.
Try to keep your back as straight as possible. You will feel the hamstring muscles stretch.
Hold the position for 10 seconds and then return to the starting position.
Do 5 reps.
Stretching exercise 12: Triceps
I recommend this stretch if you regularly do strength training sets for your triceps.
You should be standing up straight with your feet hip-width apart.
Extend your arms above your head, as if caught in a heist. Bend your right elbow and lay your right hand flat on your upper back (palm facing back).
Your left hand comes to hold the top of your right elbow to push it gently backwards.
Hold the position for 30 to 60 seconds and then do the same on the other side.
Want to know more about stretching?
Read it Practical guide to stretching: Methods and exercises for everyone
It's a fact, too many of us bludgeon our bodies without taking care of them.
This remarkable book will help you change your habits to preserve your muscles and joints.
Its author, Christophe Geoffroy, is a French physiotherapist specializing in supporting professional footballers.
- Geoffrey, Christophe
Flexibility Exercise: Conclusion
If, like me, you have neglected to stretch for too long, I invite you to correct that today.
You will find at least 3 immediate benefits:
- This is crazy good.
- You will feel much better during your bodybuilding sessions.
- You will drastically reduce the risk of injury when you play sports.
Another advantage for those who don't exercise at all is that a stretching session is a real gateway to getting started. Stretching will really make you want to go further.
A full session won't take you more than 20 minutes if you do all the exercises I recommend.
Lose weight without waiting
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Last update on 2022-11-04 / Affiliate links / Some images are from the Amazon Product Advertising API