Our Top 10 Stretch Exercises for Beginners
Regular stretching has many benefits but essentially it improves flexibility and the range of motion in your joints which in turn can enhance athletic performance.
If you're new to stretch, it can be quite daunting not knowing where or how to begin but we've made it super easy for you to get started with our Top 10 stretches for Beginners. Put together by our resident Stretch Instructor Ebony, check out the Stretches below complete with instructions and pictures.
Join us for Stretch every Thursday and Saturday. Check out the Term 6 timetable.
1. WARM UP
Start with a vigorous warm up for 10 – 15 minutes. This could include a light jog, jumping jacks, basic aerobics / dancing, hula hooping, or anything that gets your heart rate up and gets your body prepared for deeper stretching.
2. HAMSTRING STRETCH
Hold the position for 10 seconds, pulling and pushing the straight leg at the same time to create resistance. At the end of 10 seconds, take a deep inhalation, then exhale, relax the muscles and bring the leg a little closer towards you.
Repeat this 3 times each side.
Tips: Keep the hips square. Use a strap around your foot if you can’t grab the leg with both hands.
To close out the stretch, try Thread the Needle (see below).
3. THREAD THE NEEDLE
Lie on your back with knees bent, and raise them above the floor. Place one foot on your opposite thigh making a 90-degree shape. Then thread your hands either behind the thigh that is supporting your foot or above the knee and draw your knees in closer to your chest.
Hold for a few breaths and repeat on the other side.
Tips: Keep the foot that is resting on your thigh flexed to deepen the stretch in your glutes and use your elbow to push the open knee further away from you as you pull the other knee towards you.
4. HIP FLEXOR STRETCH
Repeat this 3 times each side.
Tips: use yoga blocks to support you until eventually you can get your hands to the floor. Keep the hips square and the front leg at a 90-degree angle with the knee directly above your ankle.
Use a mirror to check your alignment.
5. DEEP LUNGE
Bring both hands to the inside of the bent leg. The front foot can be turned out slightly. Push down on either your hands, elbows or yoga blocks.
6. SEATED ROW STRETCH WITH BAND
Wrap a strap or resistance band around your feet, then, sitting up tall and straight on your sit bones, pull yourself a little closer to your feet while keeping your back straight. You will feel an intense stretch behind your calves – breathe through this and only go further if you can keep breathing. The more you can relax, the deeper you’ll be able to go into this stretch.
Tips: If you want to increase the intensity, flex your feet so that your toes are pointing towards your head.
7. STRADDLE STRETCH
This is a great stretch to open up the adductor muscles that are required to go into a middle split.
Hold onto the pole with your back straight, and alternate between pushing away from the pole and pulling yourself towards the pole. Try holding for a few sets to begin with. Practice holding for a count of 10-15 breaths each set.
Tips: it’s ok to start with a very narrow straddle as long as you keep your back straight. If you don’t have a pole at home, try this against a sturdy object or a partner.
8. CAMEL STRETCH
You can try this stretch either by holding onto a pole or leaning your pelvis gently against a wall. Keep your knees at least hip distance apart. Push your navel into the pole and gradually lean back with your chest before letting your head drop back. Hold for a few breaths. To close out the stretch, gently round out your back to counter the stretch.
Tips: Lead the stretch with your chest, not your neck. Open your knees a little wider if needed to make it easier to lean back into the stretch.
9. SHOULDER STRETCH & OPENER
Place your palms against the wall, and slowly walk back till your arms are outstretched and your head roughly lines up with your arms. Keep your back straight. Breathe deeply and feel the stretch behind your shoulders and along your back.
Tips: keep your back straight and your feet directly under your hips. Use a mirror to check your alignment.
10. SHOULDER STRETCH WITH STRAP
Holding onto a strap with hands at least shoulder distance apart, gently pull the strap up and over your head, and slowly behind your shoulders. Breathe, and bring the strap over your head back to starting position. Repeat a few times.
Tips: Keep your shoulders relaxed. If your shoulder is ‘riding up’ to get the strap over your head, bring your hands out a little wider.