There are so many incredible ways for us to move our bodies. Stretching is one of the most important tools in our wellness arsenal because it allows us a better range of motion, improved posture, better balance, injury prevention, and more.
And because our bodies have so many working parts, there are infinite combinations of exercises you can do to stretch your body to improve overall fitness and function. We’ve put together five stretching exercises for flexibility beginners, so put on some stretchy clothes, get out a yoga mat or towel to provide a little extra cushion between you and the floor, and follow along!
1. Side Stretch
This is an awesome lengthening exercise for flexibility training, and it’s very simple to do:
Stand up tall and put your arms straight up in the air above your head. Grab your right wrist with your left hand. Inhale while reaching your body as tall as you can and use your left arm to pull your right arm to the left as you exhale, creating an arcing shape with your entire body.
Take a few deep breaths and repeat on the other side. This side-opener should feel amazing from your hips to your waist to your lower back to your shoulders to your wrists.
2. Quad Stretch
Utilizing stretching exercises for your quads is extremely important because tightness in these muscles can cause back and knee pain.
To do a quad stretch, start standing next to a wall for support if you need help balancing. Bending your right knee, grab your right foot or ankle with your right hand behind you. Make sure you tuck your hips under (don’t let your butt stick out) to deepen the stretch. Hold for a few deep breaths and switch sides.
3. Seated Spinal Twist
This move is extremely restorative and contributes to better spinal mobility. It’s a simple way to decompress our vertebrae and relieve pressure in the back.
To do this stretch, sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you. Bend your right knee, bringing it toward your chest with your foot on the ground.
Now, lift your right leg and place your foot down on the outside of your left knee. Next, cross your left arm over the outside of your right knee so that your left elbow is touching the right side of your right thigh.
Take a deep breath as you sit up tall and use the contact between your leg and elbow to twist to the right as you look over your right shoulder and exhale.
Lift again with every inhale and sink deeper into that twist with every exhale. Take a few breaths here without twisting too hard and switch to the other side.
4. Cross-Body Stretch to Tricep Stretch
This is a two-in-one stretch to limber up your arms. You probably remember this move from gym class, but we’ll go over it anyway.
Standing up tall, cross your right arm over your chest so that it’s parallel to the floor. Hook it on the crook of your left elbow. Bend that left elbow in, pulling the right arm toward you. Make sure you’re engaging your back and pulling your shoulder blades together while you do this; don’t let your right shoulder collapse forward. This is the cross-body stretch.
Next, drop that right arm and swing it over your head, so it’s sticking straight up into the air. Now, without changing your arm’s position from your shoulder, bend it from the elbow. Use your left hand to grab that elbow, and pull toward the middle of your back body. This is the tricep stretch.
Now wash, rinse, and repeat on the other side.
5. Child’s Pose
We’re wrapping up with child’s pose because it’s just so relaxing. This full-body stretching exercise for flexibility will feel great for your hips, back, chest, shoulders, ankles, and thighs, and it will allow you to just sink into the earth and breathe.
To get into a child’s pose, start on all fours. Move your knees outward so that they’re a little farther apart than shoulder-width or about the width of a yoga mat if you have one. Make sure your big toes are touching.
Now, put your weight back on your legs so you can bend your torso toward the ground. Use your arms to support the journey down, walking your hands forward as you go. Eventually, your arms should be extended out in front of you, your forehead should be on the floor, hips should be back, and your chest should be melting down (but don’t worry if it isn’t on the floor or even close).
If that feels uncomfortable for your hips or shoulders, feel free to put a pillow or two on the floor for your chest to lean on. If it’s a knee issue, place a pillow in the crook of your knee (between the calves and buttocks).
Take as many deep breaths here as you can. Having a static stretching routine for flexibility like this can be not only helpful but also extremely calming, so take your time here.
Treating your body to the stretching it needs is one of the most helpful forms of self-care you can do. It will improve performance both in and out of the gym and ultimately lead to a healthier you! You can practice stretching for flexibility at any of our locations. We also have fantastic stretching exercises for flexibility on our virtual fitness platform, iKLBFit.