When I was younger, it was easy to skip stretching before and after my workouts. The consequences were hardly noticeable, and my body bounced back quickly from sports-related injuries. As I get older, though, I've learned that stretching is not only important for my body, but it's essential. When I don't stretch, my joints and muscles pay a high price.
Whether you're young or old, stretching should be routine -- the same as drinking water and fueling before and after your workout. Allocating time to stretch before AND after exercising is necessary for maximizing your workouts and keeping your joints in good shape. You can read more about that here.
Here are a few of my favorite stretches to keep my body in tip-top shape. Give them a try the next time you exercise -- or even when you're just feeling the need to stretch.
Yoga Journal calls this stretch the 'King of Hip Openers,' and it's one of my favorite stretches for my hip flexors. It also just feels really good, especially after leg day.
Another yoga stretch, Child's Pose is excellent for stretching out your hips, back, and neck. It's an excellent stretch for meditation and breathing, and for calming your mind and body after an intense workout.
Kneeling Lunge Stretch
Shape Magazine claims it's the one stretch you shouldn't skip, and I couldn't agree more. Kneeling lunge stretches do wonders if you have a desk job or spend a lot of your day sitting. They are equally great after workouts that focus on your hip flexors, quads, and hamstrings.