will save your gluteus maximus not to mention the rest of your muscles!
Never exercise without warming up and stretching first. Don't stretch cold muscles - you won't accomplish squat. Make sure your warm-up and stretch routine includes the following steps in this order:
Step 1: Warm up first for 8 to 10 minutes. Emulate the activity you'll be doing at a minimal intensity; Light jogging to warm up for running, or any sport that includes running. Light cycling for cycling. Easy relaxed swimming for swimming. Jogging and shooting baskets for basketball. Jogging and kicking around the soccer ball for soccer, etc.
Step 2: Stop and engage in slow, relaxed, static stretching. Static stretching includes any stretch that is held to increase flexibility.
Step 3: Light dynamic exercises for loosening-up: Start with shoulder, arm and ankle rotations. Progress to leg-raises, and arm-swings in all directions. Do as many repetitions as it takes to reach your maximum range of motion without causing fatigue.
Step 4: Practice the same movements that will be used during the athletic event, but at a reduced intensity to stimulate coordination, balance, strength, response-time and to prevent injury.
The Cool down.
Immediately after your exercise begin a cool down that lasts 8 to10 minutes. Emulate the same movements you used during exercise at a progressively lower intensity. Then do your static stretches again. While stretching before exercise prevents injury, stretching after exercise is the best time to increase flexibility.
Improper stretching can be just as bad for you as not stretching at all, so pay attention to proper technique and the following rules:
Once again never stretch cold muscles.
Always stretch after warming up and after cooling down.
Do not hold your breath when stretching.
Inhale before you start the stretch, and slowly exhale as you move farther into the stretch. When holding a stretch for a long period of time, continue to breathe shallowly.
Just like working out, you need to ease into a routine. Don't go crazy the first time you stretch. Also each stretch should start conservatively, slowly and gently increasing the stretch.
You only need to stretch far enough to feel your muscles elongating.
Obviously you are going to feel tension, possibly gentle pins and needles or some gradual amount of discomfort. However, if you suddenly feel sharp pain or sudden discomfort and feel like saying "ouch" or some other four-letter word, you have likely torn muscle tissue and should immediately discontinue the stretch. Your goal is to create tension and lengthening of the muscle without ever reaching to the point of sudden pain. There is a natural progression of sensations that occurs during a stretch as you increase tension; First you feel the muscle elongating (this is good), then a localized warm feeling grows near the origin or insertion of the muscle. This is followed by a burning spasm-like sensation, which is followed by a sharp pain. Whenever you feel the warmth beginning, ease off slightly to avoid further progression toward pain. In some cases, especially when you are doing a stretching routine for the first time, you may follow the above guidelines flawlessly, but still become sore the next day. For this reason it's best to be very conservative when starting a stretching or exercising routine. Always ease into an exercise routine doing less than you know you can, whether you've had a 1-week break, a 3-month break, or are starting a stretching routine for the first time. There will be plenty of time to impress yourself once your body is used to daily exercise and stretching.
Do not bounce:
Bouncing can produce microtrauma, which turns muscle fibers into scar tissue. This actually makes you less flexible and prone to pain. Bouncing also triggers the stretch reflex. This is a natural reflex that tightens the muscles when the autonomic nervous system senses you are about to overextend a muscle, tendon or ligament. When you bounce your central nervous system is actually shortening your muscle making you less flexible than when you started.
You should always hold each stretch for at least 20 seconds to gain any benefit.
Ideally if you want to increase flexibility, you should take 30 to 40 seconds to ease into a stretch. At the end of this time you should have determined the maximum position you can hold without causing sharp pain. Hold this position for another 20, to 30 seconds, or with practice for another 1 to 2 minutes. Relax and move to the next stretch or repeat after 1 minute.
Try to keep all sides of your body equally flexible.
If you stretch your thigh for instance, be sure to stretch its opposing muscles, the hamstrings. If one leg is more flexible than the other, strive to bring the problem leg up to equal flexibility. Flexibility imbalance can lead to an unbalanced gait (or walk), strain and injury.
Always make sure you're using proper technique.
Review diagrams or instructions from time to time to refresh your mind on the details and remind you of stretches you may be forgetting. It also can't hurt to ask a trainer or therapist if you're using correct technique.
Thoroughly stretch the muscles you'll be using.
Every sport requires certain muscles to work harder than others. It's a good idea to stretch all your muscles every time you exercise to maintain overall flexibility. However you need to take the extra step to focus back in on those muscles you will be using the most.
The order at which you stretch is very important
if you want to get the maximum benefits from your routine. When you do a stretch that "targets" a major muscle group, you end up pulling on other "supporting" muscles. This concept is called synergism. If you don't stretch the supporting muscles first, they could limit the quality of the stretch that your target muscle receives. Stretching your supporting muscles immediately before the target muscle enhances the stretch that your target muscle receives. So follow the guidelines below when setting up the order of your stretch routine. (We've included an order following the guidelines.) Once an order has been established, stick to it. This helps you remember to do every stretch.
Now to make it easier, here's an order that follows the above rules:
Too many different stretches?
You may not have time to do all the following stretches aggressively each day. If you stretch one muscle for a long time on one day, and fail to stretch it equally hard the next day, you will accomplish very little. In order to increase the flexibility of a muscle you must stretch it thoroughly every day for at least a week. An effective way to still increase the flexibility of all these muscles, is to divide the stretches into several groups of five or six stretches each. Each week pick a different group of muscles to focus on and to stretch thoroughly to improve their flexibility. For all of the other muscles, just spend the amount of time required to maintain their flexibility. Continue to rotate through the muscle groups from week to week in this manner.
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Similar in position, but not to be confused with the butt stretch
Upper Back Stretch
Pelvic Tilt (for pregnant women)
It's more effective to stretch one leg at a time, so you're less limited by your pain threshold.
Note: The hamstrings can cause great pain and injury if not thoroughly stretched, so you might want to hold these stretches for up to 1.5 minutes. For increased effectiveness, while bent forward in the stretching position with your extended leg slightly bent, tighten all of the muscles of the upper leg for four to five seconds. Then relax the leg. As you relax, you should be able to move farther into the stretch. Try this technique several times with each leg. This technique of contracting and relaxing helps with other stretches as well.
Butterfly Groin Stretch (Modified Lotus, Tailor Sitting)
Inner Leg Stretch (adductors)
Hip and Thigh Stretch
Top Thigh Stretch
You might be able to stretch your biceps just by fully straightening your arms And extending the top of your hand with bent fingers toward the top of your forearms Now rotate your arms so they extend behind you and hold.
If you need more of a stretch resume this position and ask a friend to gently and slowly raise your arms higher behind you.
Or if a friend isn't available try the following:
Very important before handling heavy weights
Once you have loosened up your wrists with wrist rotations and wrist stretches, try this exercise to prepare your wrist for tension.
Wrist Extension Stretch
Wrist Flex Stretch
Inward Wrist Twist
Outward Wrist Twist
Another doozy to explain Ð see diagram.
Shake out your wrists after each exercise.
Swimmer Streamline Stretch