What are your favorite stretches? And what was this mystery stretch?
January 7, 2015 6:07 AM   Subscribe

I want to incorporate stretching as a serious part of my gym routine - not so much as a warm up but for greater flexibility. So I'm looking for interesting and useful stretches or exercises that incorporate stretching plus any resources that you'd recommend. Also, what were these mystery stretches I saw being done at the gym?

Currently, I lift weights and do some cardio at the gym, plus bike-commute year round (although I'm much fatter, stiffer and weaker-cored than this suggests). I do three days a week of light warm up stretching, weights, and a little cardio. I'd like to add two days a week of Very Serious Stretching and more cardio stuff. I currently do some simple calf and leg stretches, lunges, knee bends, side bends and basic arm/shoulder stretching. People are always doing interesting specialty stretching at the gym, though, and I would like to add more to what I do. (Sometimes I can figure out what people are doing and/or try it at home on my own, but I like to read up on correct form and stuff first if anything is complicated.)

Recommend me complicated, interesting stretches and floor exercises which focus on stretching! Dance stretches, your favorite yoga stretches, all are welcome. I am not the world's most flexible person (yet) but I've had good luck with improving my flexibility so far and am willing to work up to more difficult stuff.

Also, I saw someone doing these stretchy things at the gym the other day - first it was like she was moving rapidly and repeatedly through yoga poses mixed with non-yoga stretches (child pose, some back strength non-yoga stuff, something that looked like a typical runners' stretch) and then she did this thing where it was like she was doing downward dog, but at a much more acute angle, and then doing leg lifts with each leg where she'd sort of punch the leg skyward. It was like she had started to do a handstand but stopped to do leg lifts in the middle. What were these things? They were neat and I would like more information.
posted by Frowner to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
 
What you're describing is almost definitely some form of dynamic stretching, which I've been told is better to do before a workout than the normal 'stand and stretch' short (static stretching) because you're not forcing your cold muscles into any positions, you're warming them up with movement. There's all sorts of routines out there, but the moves you're describing sound like hip and leg warmups, thus the runner's world link.

Do you do pigeon pose? As a fellow bike commuter, I lovvvve pigeon pose.
posted by theweasel at 6:57 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


The clasped-hands-behind-back stretch (the no. 5 stretch here) is great for typing/clicking all day and using arms to lift weights. To work up to it, hold a yoga strap (or similar ropelike thing) in the top hand, and grasp the strap with the bottom hand. Also, it helps me to place the bottom hand first, get it firmly in place as high as I can get it, then reach down with the top hand.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 7:36 AM on January 7, 2015


Definitely pigeon pose and downward dog. Personally, I will focus a lot on my hips and lower back since I'm sitting at a desk all day and I am getting older (sigh). I would also recommend using a foam roller to work out the kinks. I know it's pretty trendy right now, but I have noticed a change in how I feel pre- and post-workout when I use a foam roller.

If you have access to resistance bands (like these), I would also recommend those to help stretch out arms, shoulders, calf muscles, etc.

I am not a doctor, nor am I your doctor so with any and all of these I strongly suggest chatting with a professional (if you're able) as stretching incorrectly can do not-so-great things to a body. At the very least, watch a lot of YouTube demos beforehand.
posted by thefang at 7:42 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


iliotibial band stretch with a strap. It changed my life!
posted by gaspode at 7:55 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I picked up some stretches from MobilityWOD - thats a real rabbit hole of flexibility resources and theory right there. (Warning for Crossfit - don't end up hurting yourself, Crossfitters can get a bit obsessed and aren't necessarily well trained tho Kelly at least is a PT).
posted by Ness at 8:22 AM on January 7, 2015


Pigeon pose really opens up the hips. It's really hard at the beginning!
posted by radioamy at 9:25 AM on January 7, 2015


This is one of my favorite upper-back stretches. I'm not a doctor or a physical therapist, just a normal person who may be suggesting something that will kill you if done wrong.

Lie on your back, arms out to the sides. I don't think it matter what you do with your legs.
Do a "thumbs up" sign with one hand, and a "thumbs down" sign with the other. The whole arm should rotate, not just the wrists.
Gently pull the "thumbs down" shoulder up while pushing the "thumbs up" shoulder down.
Then switch "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" and do the other side.

For some reason this gives my knotty, painful upper back and shoulders the BEST stretch. Be warned - do this gently. I've given myself a mild muscle pull while trying to do this with too much enthusiasm.
posted by Elly Vortex at 11:48 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


For me, being able to relax into a delicious long stretch was key to getting/wanting to get more flexible. Here's the ones I look forward to every time I do them: wide seated forward bend (upavistha konasana), wide forward bend (prasarita padottanasana), plow (halasana), and cat-cow (chakravakasa). Each of these poses are great for relaxing into, and they just feel amazing!
posted by moons in june at 3:29 PM on January 7, 2015


The book Stretching by Bob Anderson is a very nice resource.
posted by neutralmojo at 2:21 PM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


For flexibility, Pavel Tsatsouline's Relax Into Stretch is remarkable. (There's an accompanying DVD, plus an advanced-level DVD.)
posted by Lexica at 6:35 PM on January 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


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