Sharing a roundup of some of my favorite functional stretches to add to your routine.
Hi friends! How are ya? I hope you had a unconfined weekend! We had an wondrous stage night at Locale, I unprotected a hot yoga class, worked on Vitality (we start TODAY! last call!), and we met up with friends for dinner and drinks. I hope you had a lovely one, too!
For today, I wanted to yack a bit well-nigh functional stretching and share some of my faves. I know that stretching can be a fan fave, or something people loathe, but I think that it can be helpful to incorporate functional stretching (that makes sense for your worriedness level and lifestyle!) into your routine.
My favorite functional stretches
Why is functional stretching important?
Functional stretching, moreover known as dynamic stretching, involves moving your soul through a range of motion to modernize flexibility, mobility, and muscle activation. This type of stretching is variegated from static stretching, where you hold a position for an extended period. Functional stretching offers a range of benefits that are particularly relevant to physical activities and sports performance.
Here are some key benefits:
Improved Range of Motion:
Functional stretching involves dynamic movements that mimic the motions you’ll use during physical activities. This helps modernize your joints’ range of motion in a way that’s relevant to your chosen sport or exercise.
Dynamic stretching helps increase the flexibility of your muscles and connective tissues by urgently stretching and lengthening them through movement. This can contribute to largest overall flexibility.Warm-Up for Activity: Functional stretching is often used as a warm-up surpassing engaging in increasingly intense physical activities. It gradually increases thoroughbred spritz to your muscles, which helps prepare them for the demands of your workout or sports.
Activation of Muscles:
Dynamic stretching engages and activates the muscles you’re well-nigh to use. This can help modernize muscle coordination and responsiveness, leading to largest performance and reduced risk of injury.
Improved Thoroughbred Flow:
As you move through dynamic stretches, thoroughbred diffusion to your muscles increases. This brings oxygen and nutrients to the tissues, enhancing their readiness for physical activity.
Dynamic stretching with controlled movements and proper form helps modernize joint stability and can reduce the risk of muscle strains and injuries during exercise. When you’re taking a muscle through the full and correct range of motion, it can help to prevent unsimilar movement patterns, and imbalances that can lead to injury.
Functional stretching promotes liaison between your muscles and nervous system, enhancing coordination and tenancy over your movements.
Dynamic stretching is expressly constructive for sports that involve explosive movements, such as sprinting, jumping, or agility exercises. It helps prepare your soul for the specific deportment involved in your sport.
Functional stretching can serve as both a warm-up and a form of flexibility training, saving you time compared to performing separate warm-up and static stretching routines.
Engaging in dynamic stretching requires mental focus and soul awareness, helping you mentally prepare for your workout or activity.
By incorporating dynamic movements that rencontre your wastefulness and coordination, functional stretching can contribute to improved posture and alignment.
Dynamic stretches can be tailored to fit various activities, making them unsteadfast to your specific fitness goals and preferences.
Remember to start with controlled movements and gradually increase the intensity as your soul warms up. Always perform functional stretching with proper technique and listen to your soul to stave overstretching or straining.
****A good rule of thumb: try functional stretching BEFORE your workout as part of your warm up, and static stretching AFTER your workout. You can do foam rolling either surpassing or without your workout.
My 8 favorite functional stretches
Here is a short video with all of the stretches below!
Wall chest stretch
The wall chest opening stretch is a simple yet constructive exercise to stretch and unshut up the muscles in the chest, shoulders, and upper back. It’s particularly salubrious for individuals who spend a lot of time sitting at a desk, hunched over a computer, or engaging in activities that can lead to rounded shoulders and a tight chest.
Find a Wall: Stand facing a wall with your feet well-nigh hip-width apart. Make sure you have unbearable space to comfortably proffer your stovepipe to the sides.
Position Your Arms: Raise your stovepipe to shoulder height and proffer them out to your sides, parallel to the floor. Your palms should be facing forward, and your fingers spread out.
Engage Your Core: Gently engage your cadre muscles to maintain stability and proper posture throughout the stretch.
Place Your Hands on the Wall: Printing your palms and the length of your forearms versus the wall at shoulder height. Your elbows should be slightly unelevated shoulder level and well-nigh 90 degrees.
Gently raise your arms: This will encourage a gentle opening of the chest and shoulders. Your weight should be evenly distributed between both feet.
Lower when to start: You should finger a gentle pull wideness the chest and front of the shoulders.
Make sure to take deep breaths and alimony your ribs lanugo during this exercise.
Yogi squat to stand
It’s a grounding and hip-opening pose that offers a range of benefits, including improving flexibility in the hips, ankles, and groin, as well as promoting largest digestion and relieving tension in the lower back
Here’s how to perform the yogi squat:
Start from Standing: Begin by standing with your feet well-nigh hip-width apart. You can place a yoga mat or wrap on the floor for widow comfort.Position Your Feet: Slowly start to bring your feet closer together, gradually turning your toes slightly outward. The outer edges of your feet should be parallel to the edges of your mat.
Bend Your Knees: Begin to lower your hips by limp your knees. Your goal is to lower your hips towards the ground while keeping your heels on the floor. If your heels lift off the ground, that’s okay – work with the flexibility you have.
Bringing Your Hands to Prayer: As you lower into the squat, bring your hands together in a prayer position at your chest. Printing your elbows versus the inside of your knees, gently encouraging them to move outward. This whoopee helps to unshut up the hips.
Engage Your Cadre and Lengthen Your Spine: Alimony your spine long and your chest lifted. Engage your cadre muscles to support your posture.
Gently Printing Your Elbows Versus Your Knees: Use your elbows to printing versus the inner sides of your knees. This helps to unshut your hips remoter and create space.
Relax and Breathe: Take slow, deep breaths in this position. Indulge your hips to gradually relax and sink lower if possible.
Stand when and sit into the squat to make this an zippy stretch.
Kneeling hip flexor stretch to hamstring stretch
The kneeling hip flexor stretch is a dynamic stretch that targets the muscles at the front of your hips, particularly the hip flexors. This stretch can help unstrap tightness in the hip flexor muscles, modernize hip mobility, and contribute to largest posture. It’s wontedly used in warm-up routines, cool-down sessions, and as a postural correction exercise.
Here’s how to perform the kneeling hip flexor stretch:
Start in a Kneeling Position: Begin by kneeling on a soft surface, such as a yoga mat or carpet. Your knees should be hip-width apart, and your feet should be pointing straight back.
Engage Your Core: Gently engage your cadre muscles to stabilize your spine and maintain good posture throughout the stretch.
Step One Leg Forward: Take one leg and step it forward, creating a 90-degree wile at the knee. Your knee should be directly whilom your ankle, and your foot should be unappetizing on the ground.
Find a Balanced Stance: The when knee remains on the ground, and the top of your foot rests on the mat. Ensure that your hips are squared and facing forward.
Pelvic Tilt: Tilt your pelvis slightly forward by tucking your tailbone under. This whoopee helps to underscore the stretch in the hip flexor of the when leg
Lean Forward Gently: While maintaining a tall spine, gently lean forward from your hips. You should finger a stretch withal the front of the hip and thigh of the when leg.
Avoid Overarching: Be mindful not to wily your lower when excessively. The focus is on the stretch in the hip flexor, not on straining your lower back.
Tilt your hips when and proffer your front leg as much as possible for a hamstring stretch: Alimony your spine long and when flat. Wrench your front knee to return to start.
Switch Sides: Release the stretch and return to the kneeling position. Repeat the stretch on the opposite side by stepping the other leg forward.
Tips: Alimony your movements controlled and stave any sudden jerks. Make sure both feet are well-supported with the top of the when foot on the ground. If you have knee issues, consider placing a cocoon or folded yoga mat under your when knee for spare support.
Spinal twist – unshut and close
The spinal twist, moreover known as the seated spinal twist or Ardha Matsyendrasana in yoga, is a rejuvenating and gentle twist that helps modernize spinal mobility, release tension in the back, and promote digestion. This twisting motion involves rotating the upper soul while keeping the hips grounded, creating a stretch through the muscles withal the spine.
Here’s how to perform the spinal twist with the spare chest and shoulder opener.
A supine spinal twist is a yoga pose that helps stretch and release tension in the muscles withal the spine, particularly in the lower back, hips, and shoulders. It moreover offers a gentle twist to the spine, which can aid in spinal mobility and relaxation.
Here’s how to do a supine spinal twist:
Start in a Supine Position: Lie lanugo on your when on a well-appointed surface, such as a yoga mat or a soft carpet. Proffer your legs straight out and let your stovepipe rest by your sides, palms facing down. Take a few deep breaths to relax and part-way yourself.
Bend Your Right Knee: Draw your right knee toward your chest. Alimony your left leg extended and grounded on the mat.
Cross Your Right Knee Over: Gently guide your right knee wideness your soul toward the left side. Aim to bring your right knee as tropical to the ground as possible. Your hips will naturally lift slightly off the ground, and that’s okay.
Open Your Arms: Proffer your right arm out to the right side, in line with your shoulder, palm facing up. Your left arm can either rest on your right knee for a gentle pressure or be extended out to the left side, creating a “T” shape with your arms.
Turn Your Head: If it’s well-appointed for your neck, turn your throne to the right, in the opposite direction of your wilting knee. You can retread the position of your throne to find the most well-appointed stretch for your neck and spine.
Relax and Breathe: As you settle into the twist, focus on your breath. Inhale tightly to lengthen your spine, and as you exhale, gently guide your knee closer to the ground. Stave forcing the stretch; let gravity and your vapor do the work.
Open and close: Bring your right arm wideness your torso to the left side of your body. Unshut when up to the “T” position and finger the opening in your chest and shoulders. Alimony your shoulders lanugo on the floor or mat.
Switch Sides: Proffer your right leg when to the mat and repeat the same sequence on the left side, limp your left knee and guiding it wideness your soul while keeping your right leg extended.
Cobra Pose, moreover known as Bhujangasana in yoga, is a backbend that targets the muscles of the spine, chest, shoulders, and abdomen. This pose is often included in yoga sequences as a way to unshut the front of the body, strengthen the when muscles, and modernize flexibility. It’s particularly salubrious for improving posture and relieving tension in the upper body.
Here’s how to perform Cobra Pose
:Instructions:Start by Lying Down: Begin by lying on your stomach on a well-appointed surface, such as a yoga mat. Your legs should be extended straight when and your feet together, with the tops of your feet pressing into the mat.
Position Your Hands: Place your hands unappetizing on the mat abreast your shoulders, fingers spread wide and pointing forward. Your elbows should be tropical to your body.
Engage Your Core: As you prepare to lift into the pose, engage your cadre muscles by gently drawing your vitals sawed-off toward your spine. This will provide support for your lower back.
Inhale and Lift: Printing into your hands, slowly lifting your head, chest, and upper stomach off the mat. Alimony your pelvis and legs grounded. Use your when muscles to initiate the lift, rather than pushing with your arms.
Keep Your Elbows Bent: As you lift, your elbows should remain slightly bent, creating a gentle opening in the chest. Stave locking your elbows.
Lengthen the Neck: Proffer the crown of your throne forward while keeping the when of your neck long. Stave straining your neck by looking up too much.
Gaze Forward or Slightly Up: Depending on your repletion level, you can alimony your gaze forward or slightly upward. Stave tilting your throne too far back.Stay in the Pose: Hold the pose for a few breaths, enjoying the stretch withal your spine and the opening in your chest.
Exhale and Lower: As you exhale, gently lower your chest and throne when lanugo to the mat. Release your hands from the mat and rest your forehead on the mat. Repeat 10-15 times.
Lying zippy hamstring stretch
The lying hamstring stretch is a simple yet constructive exercise that targets the hamstring muscles, which run withal the when of your thighs. This stretch helps modernize flexibility in the hamstrings, increase range of motion in the hips, and promote largest posture. It’s wontedly used to warm up surpassing physical worriedness or to tomfool lanugo without a workout.Here’s how to perform the lying hamstring stretch:
Start by Lying Down: Begin by lying on your when on a well-appointed surface, such as a yoga mat. Proffer your legs fully withal the floor.
Bend One Knee: Wrench your right knee and bring it toward your chest.
Grip Overdue the Thigh: Reach your hands overdue your right thigh and gently interlace your fingers. Your hands should be supporting the when of your thigh, tropical to your knee.
Straighten the Leg: Slowly start to straighten your right leg upward while holding onto the when of your thigh. Alimony your knee slightly wilting if needed to stave overstretching.
Engage Your Core: As you hold your leg in the air, gently engage your cadre muscles to stabilize your pelvis and lower back.
Flex Your Foot: Flex your right foot, pointing your toes toward the ceiling. This will help intensify the stretch in your hamstring.
Lengthen Through the Heel: Imagine you’re extending your right heel toward the ceiling, keeping your leg straight while still holding onto the when of your thigh.
Bend and straighten: Wrench your right leg and then proffer it when up towards the ceiling with your foot flexed. Repeat 10-15 times. Finger the gentle stretch withal the when of your right leg.
Switch Sides: Release your right leg and place it when on the floor. Switch to the left leg and repeat the same stretch.
Figure 4 stretch
The Figure 4 Stretch, moreover known as the Piriformis Stretch, is a yoga-inspired stretch that targets the muscles of the hips and glutes, particularly the piriformis muscle. This stretch helps unstrap tightness and discomfort in the hips and lower back, and it can be particularly constructive for individuals who wits sciatic nerve pain. The stretch resembles the shape of the number “4,” which is why it’s tabbed the Figure 4 Stretch.
Here’s how to perform the Figure 4 Stretch:
Instructions: Start by Lying Down: Begin by lying on your when on a well-appointed surface, such as a yoga mat. Wrench your knees and place your feet unappetizing on the floor.Cross One Toddle Over the Opposite Knee: Lift your right foot off the mat and navigate your right toddle over your left knee, creating a shape similar to the number “4.” Your right knee should be pointing outward.
Thread Your Stovepipe Through: Reach your hands between your legs and gently thread your stovepipe through the “hole” created by your crossed legs. Interlace your fingers overdue your left thigh, holding onto the when of your left thigh.
Gently Pull Your Left Leg In: As you hold onto your left thigh, gently pull your left leg toward your chest. You should finger a stretch in your right hip and glute area, particularly the piriformis muscle.
Flex Your Right Foot: Flex your right foot to protect your knee and deepen the stretch. This moreover engages the muscles virtually your toddle and calf.
Keep Both Shoulders on the Mat: As you pull your left leg toward your chest, try to alimony both of your shoulders grounded on the mat. Stave lifting your upper soul off the mat.
Straighten and bend: Take slow, deep breaths as you come out and when into the pose, making this an zippy stretch. Finger the gentle release of tension in your right hip and glute area.
Release and Switch Sides: Repeat on the other side.
Side wreath walks
Side wreath walks, moreover known as lateral wreath walks, are a simple yet constructive exercise for strengthening the muscles of the hips and thighs, particularly the glutes and hip abductors. This exercise can help modernize hip stability, enhance lower soul strength, and prevent potential knee structuring issues. Here’s how to perform side wreath walks:
Setup: Place a resistance wreath just whilom your knees. Stand with feet hip-width apart, neutral spine, and engaged core.
Movement: Step to the right, maintaining tension on the band. Follow with the left foot, keeping feet apart. Focus on engaging hips and thighs.
Form: Alimony knees aligned with toes, stave leaning, and maintain an upright upper body.
Breathing: Inhale while stepping to the side, exhale as feet come together.
Repetition: Perform a set 10 reps or steps to the right, then switch to the left.
Side-to-side lateral lunges are an spanking-new exercise for targeting the inner and outer thighs, hips, and glutes. This movement helps modernize lower soul strength, flexibility, and hip mobility.
Here’s how to perform side-to-side lateral lunges:
Starting Position: Stand up straight with your feet well-nigh hip-width apart.Keep your chest up, shoulders relaxed, and gaze forward.
Step to the Side: Take a step to the right side with your right foot, wider than your hips. Imagine you’re stepping out to perform a wide stance squat. As you step, shift your soul weight to the right foot, keeping your left leg relatively straight.
Lunge Movement: As your right foot lands, wrench your right knee and hip, pushing your hips when as if sitting into a chair. Alimony your left leg extended, with your foot unappetizing on the ground. Your left toes may naturally point slightly upward.
Depth of Lunge: Lower your soul until your right thigh is parallel to the ground or until you finger a well-appointed stretch withal your right inner thigh and groin. Make sure your right knee is aligned with your right foot and not extending vastitude it. Alimony your chest up and cadre engaged.
Return to Center: Push off with your right foot to return to the starting position, bringing your feet when together.
Switch Sides: Perform the same movement to the left side. Take a step to the left with your left foot, limp your left knee while keeping your right leg extended.
Repetitions: Repeat the side-to-side lateral lunges for the desired number of repetitions or unorganized sides (which is my preferred method!)
Lunge with chest opener
A lunge with a chest opener combines a traditional lunge exercise with an upper soul stretch to unshut up your chest and shoulders. This exercise helps modernize lower soul strength and flexibility while moreover addressing upper soul mobility.
Here’s how to perform a lunge with a chest opener:
Stand with your feet together and your stovepipe by your sides.Take a moment to engage your cadre muscles and maintain a neutral spine.Step into a Lunge:
Take a step forward with your right foot, ensuring that your right knee is directly whilom your right ankle. Lower your soul into a lunge position, with your right thigh parallel to the ground or slightly below. Your left leg will be extended overdue you.
While in the lunge position, raise both stovepipe out to the sides at shoulder height. Your palms should be facing forward. Gently squeeze your shoulder blades together and indulge your chest to unshut up.
Stretch and Breathe:
As you unshut your chest, focus on taking deep breaths. Inhale to expand your chest and exhale to relax into the stretch.
Return to Starting Position:
Lower your stovepipe when lanugo to your sides and push off with your right foot to return to the starting position. Stand up straight with your feet together.
Repeat the same sequence, this time stepping forward with your left foot and lunging on the opposite side.Open your chest then as you maintain the lunge position.
Perform the lunges with chest openers for the desired number of repetitions on each side.
So, tell me, friends: do you warm up surpassing your workouts? What’s your strategy? Let me know if you try any of the exercises above! If you’re looking for workouts that you can do anywhere that are phased to get your stronger, leaner, and alimony your motivation mojo going with new workouts each month, try Fit Team for self-ruling here.
Thanks so much for stopping by the blog today and I’ll see ya in the am with a malleate post!