There are more ways to finish off your workout than with a light jog or massaging your muscles with a foam roller. Instead, try incorporating static stretching to also work on your flexibility.
“Static stretching is when a muscle is held in an elongated position in effort to increase elasticity at the muscle, which will optimize joint range of motion,” according to Drew Walsh, a corrective exercise and performance enhancement specialist. “Lack of flexibility can cause joint restrictions while also decreasing force production.”
Pro Tips is here with three static stretching exercises you can try after your next workout.
REAR-FOOT-ELEVATED HIP FLEXOR STRETCH
For this exercise, be sure to have a balance pad and plyo box on hand. These two pieces of equipment should be set up right next to each other, but not directly touching. Keep about three inches of space in between the box and balance pad.
Once your equipment is set up:
- Put your right knee on the middle of your balance pad. The front of your body should be facing away from the plyo box. Meanwhile, your right foot should be on top of the plyo box, with your toes facing down and touching the edge. Your right leg should be in a “V” formation.
- Keep your opposite leg at a 90-degree angle, with your foot flat on the ground.
- While bracing your core, take your right hand and reach toward the ceiling. Your arm should be straight with your fingers extended.
- Using your core, reach over to the side. Your body will be leaning toward the opposite side. So, if your right knee is on the balance pad, you’ll be leaning toward your left.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds.
- Switch sides and repeat.
STATIC STRETCHING FOR LATS
To begin static stretching for your lats, put aside the balance pad but keep your plyo box handy. The box does not need to move into a different position. However, you will need a PVC pipe or a light weighted bar. To start, set the bar on top of the plyo box, in the middle.
Begin this stretch in a tall-kneel position. Both of your knees, as well as your toes, should be in contact with the floor.
Once you’re comfortable in this position:
- Place your elbows on top of the plyo box and grab the PVC pipe or the light weighted bar with your palms facing up toward the ceiling.
- Position your elbows so that they are touching the top of the plyo box.
- Your body should have a slight lean. Keep your lean controlled, as you want to avoid having your chest or stomach come in contact with the plyo box.
- Bring the bar over your head in a curling motion, never letting your elbows leave the plyo box. While you’re moving the bar, drive your hips back toward your heels to avoid bringing your head in contact with the bar.
- While holding this position, your backside should touch the heels of both of your feet. Your thighs should also be touching your calves.
SUSPENSION TRAINER STATIC STRETCH
This static stretch comes with a new piece of equipment – a suspension trainer. If you’re new to suspension training, don’t worry. Our Pro Tips Guide to Suspension Training can walk you through the basics.
Once you’re ready, grab both handles of the suspension trainer with your palms facing forward. Then:
- Bring your arms up to shoulder height, extending them out.
- Begin walking forward, with your arms extending behind your torso. As you move, the suspension trainer will pull your arms back. “The athlete should feel a slight stretch in the chest,” Walsh says.
- To add more stability to this stretch, move your legs into a split-stance position. Your left leg will have a bend at the knee once you bring it forward. Meanwhile, your right leg will be at a slant, with no bend at the knee. Both feet should be flat on the ground.
“Flexibility is key to injury prevention by minimizing muscle imbalances,” Walsh says. “Implementing static stretching into your daily workout regimen can help decrease your chance of injury and keep you on the field or court playing at a high level.”
Now that you have a new crop of stretches to try after your next workout, learn how to put the balance pad to more use. Try these strength training exercises you can do with a balance pad at home or in the gym.