7 Super Summer Stretches

Author: Jake from Lovinyou.com.au | 20 Oct 2011

One thing many people have a tendency to neglect in any fitness program is stretching. If your goal is to look great on the beach or poolside this summer, don't forget about stretching before you work out. {C}

The importance of stretching cannot be underestimated, even if you're just going for a walk - taking some time to stretch your calves or glutes beforehand will make it more enjoyable and ensure you don’t hurt yourself.

Stretch #1: Head and neck.

The benefit of this stretch is that it will firm and tone the neck as well as stretch tight, tense muscles. First, slowly lower your chin toward your collarbone, as far as you can and once there count to 10. Next step is to raise your head and lift your chin as high as possible – I would recommend doing this 5 times (front and back). Starting with the right side, lower your ear toward your shoulder, and slowly return to upright position. Repeat on the left side andStretching after a workout Copy again I would recommend doing this 5 times each side.You may notice a difference in flexibility between each side. This is because we all naturally favor one side and habitually turn in that direction, which makes the opposing muscles slightly stronger and more flexible.

Stretch #2: Shoulders and side.

Standing with your shoulders straight, bring your right arm across your chest at collarbone level. Keeping your arm straight, use your left hand to support your arm at the elbow. Hold this position for ten seconds, then repeat on the left side. Do five to seven reps. You may feel a stretch along your upper back as well.

Stretch #3: Upper chest

Find a door frame and stand inside, with your body slightly behind the frame. Put your hands on either side of the frame at shoulder level, palms out. Slowly bend your body forward until you feel a stretch in your upper chest and shoulder area. Repeat five to seven times, leaning into the stretch slowly and completely.

Stretch #4: Triceps

Your triceps muscles are the long muscles on the back of your upper arm. The side benefit of this stretch is firming and toning your upper arms. Standing straight, start with stretching your right tricep. Bend your arm above your head, and place your right palm on the back of your neck. Put your left hand on your right elbow to hold the stretch in place. Hold for at least ten seconds, and do five to seven reps on each side.

Stretch #5: Back

This is a stretch known to many dancers, and it has the side benefit of helping to tone your abs. Standing straight, extend both of your arms out at shoulder level in a t-shape. Keeping your head straight and shoulders square, slowly bend forward at the waist. Bend forward as far as you are comfortable, aiming for an l-shape with your upper body and legs. Keep your back flat and straight – don't bend it like a turtle shell. Hold the stretch for ten seconds, and do at least ten to twelve reps.

Stretch #6: Upper thigh

Your quadriceps muscles are the large muscles on the front of your thigh. Standing straight, bend your right knee and bring your foot up behind your leg at knee level. With your right hand, hold your leg in place. Hold the stretch for at least ten seconds, and then repeat with your left leg and left hand. Do at least ten to twelve quadriceps stretches.

Stretch #7: Calf

Simple lunges will stretch tight calf muscles. Standing straight, extend your right leg forward as far as you are comfortable, and bend your knee. For a calf stretch, it's important that you keep the heel of the opposite leg on the ground. Hold the stretch until you feel your calf stretching, and also be aware of your Achilles tendon. This is the tendon that can be injured if it isn't stretched properly. Repeat five to seven times on each leg until you are warmed up.