Dorm Room Workout: Stretch it Out
Did you know that stretching your muscles is just as important as strengthening them? All of the muscles in your body have an optimum length. If all you ever do is work on strengthening, your muscles will actually shorten and become less efficient because they’re not working from this optimum length. So every time you exercise, you want to make sure to stretch out the muscles you have worked. Stretching is also a great way to relieve tension in the body, which is perfect after long hours sitting at a desk. So here are a few quick stretching tips, and ideas for stretches that are great after a workout or just a long day.
- Hold stretches for at least 30 seconds to increase flexibility
- Don’t “bounce” or “bob” in stretches (instead of reaching for your toes, pulling back, and reaching again, over and over, reach as far toward your toes as you can and hold it)
- Remember to breathe!
- Don’t over stretch – you should stretch as far as you can without feeling pain. If you are really stretching, you’ll feel tension in the muscle, but it shouldn’t hurt badly.
1. Touch your toes
Easy, you know this one. Try to relax your head and neck for a better stretch.
2. One leg toe touch
Bend one knee, straighten your other leg, and reach for your toes. Even if you don’t feel it intensely, this is a great stretch for your back as well as your hamstring.
3. Neck curl
Begin sitting up as straight as possible, with your legs extended out in front of you. Place your hands behind your head (like when you do crunches). Slowly curl your head down toward your legs, rolling through your neck and back one vertebra at a time. This is an intense stretch for your legs, back, and neck. It’s great after a day of too much sitting, but don’t overdo it.
4. Runner’s lunge
Also a familiar stretch. Make sure to keep the bent knee directly over your heel – your bent knee should make a 90 degree angle. Keep your extended leg as straight as possible.
5. Standing quad stretch
Stand on one leg, and bend your other leg and grab on to your foot. You can make this into a balance exercise by trying to hold on to your foot with both hands, or hold on with one hand and stabilize yourself by holding on to the wall with the other hand.
Garnet is a student at Columbia University in New York City. When she’s not dancing or writing, she can be found exploring the city, and let’s be honest, spending way too much time on the internet. Follow her @garnethenderson.