Many of us have a love-hate relationship with stretching. We know that without it, we experience stiffness and a reduced range of motion. Stretching is essential in keeping your muscles strong and flexible, and reducing risk of injury not only when it comes to exercising, but when performing everyday activities as well.
But if you’re not flexible, stretching can be hard or even painful, which decreases the likelihood you commit to doing it on a consistent basis.
Utilizing resistance bands during your stretch routine can help bridge the gap. It is a smart way to ease deeper into a stretch without as much pain. And you can use the tool to stretch your entire body, from your neck to your calves.
For these exercises, I am using light therapy resistance bands. But if you have thicker, cloth bands, loop bands or tube bands with handles those can all work, too. These stretches are great as a cool down after a workout or performed on their own daily to help increase your flexibility.
Lie on your back with your resistance band looped around the bottom of one foot. Grab onto the band with on end in each hand. For more of a challenge, grab the ends of the band closer to your foot, making the band tighter. Keep the unbanded leg bent with the foot on the ground. Straighten your leg with the band toward the ceiling until you feel the stretch in your hamstring. Flex the foot. Hold for 30 seconds and then switch sides.
Inner thigh stretch
Lie on your back with your resistance band looped around the bottom of one foot. Keep the unbanded leg bent with the foot on the floor, and straighten the leg of your banded foot toward the ceiling. Then, open the banded leg out to the side to stretch the inner thigh. Hold for 30 seconds and then switch sides.
Begin in a kneeling position, with your left leg bent behind you and your right leg bent in front of you with the right foot on the ground. You should be balancing on your left knee and right foot. Wrap the band around the left foot (where your shoelaces would be) and hold both ends of the band with your left hand. Using your right forearm to balance on your right thigh, pull the heel of your left foot toward your butt. You should feel a stretch in the front of the left thigh. Hold for 30 seconds and then switch sides.
Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Wrap the band around the bottom of one foot. Hold one end of the band in each hand and pull it toward you so that your foot is flexed. Hold for 30 seconds and then switch sides.
Sit on the ground with your legs crossed or stand up. Hold one end of the resistance band in each hand behind your back. Beginning with your hands close together, begin to gently pull them away from each other so that you feel a stretch across the front of your chest and shoulders. Make sure to keep your arms low to the ground. Hold for 30 seconds.
To stretch your waist, stand up straight and hold one end of the band in each hand. Raise your hands straight up overhead and create tension with the band by pulling at both ends so that your arms are at least shoulder-width apart. Lean to one side until you feel the stretch in your side. Hold for 30 seconds before switching sides.
Hold one end of the band in each hand with the middle of the band placed around the back of your head. Gently tuck your chin. Begin pulling the ends of the band down slowly to stretch the back of the neck. Hold for 10 seconds, then release and repeat two more times.
Extend one arm out in front of you with your palm facing away. Wrap the band around the palm of your hand and hold onto both ends of the band with the opposite hand. Flex the fingers of the banded hand and use the opposite hand to pull the band back toward you, feeling a stretch underneath the forearm. Hold for 10 seconds, then release and repeat two more times. Switch hands and repeat three times on the other hand.