Welcome to the first week of our 30-Day Flexibility Challenge!
Each week throughout this challenge we’ll be focusing on making our bodies more mobile and flexible, so that we can move better and stay pain-free. It’s important to maintain good flexibility and mobility to keep getting stronger and healthier!
We’ll have a different focus each week of the challenge. During the first week, we’ll be doing static stretches.
Static stretching is the most common way to stretch and most of us do it (or at least should be doing it!) on a regular basis.
You should never do static stretches before your workout. Instead, you should do a simple dynamic warm-up routine first (here’s one example). You can also do static stretching after your workout is done and your body is already warm. Although it may seem hard to believe, you can actually injure yourself from stretching too much when your body is cold, so always make sure to warm up first!
Static stretches work best when you hold them for 30-45 seconds. You don’t need to push hard for them to be effective. What you’re looking for is a little bit of tension and slight discomfort, and you should feel better after you’ve finished.
Never stretch so deep to the point of actual pain.
Week 1 Static Stretching Routine
Complete 2-3 rounds after your regular workout or dynamic warm up. Hold each stretch for 30-45 seconds.
- Basic Calf Stretch
- Hamstring Stretch on a Bench or Box
- Runner’s Lunge with Quad Stretch
- Lizard Pose for Hips
- Pigeon Pose for Glutes
- Pike Stretch for Low Back & Hamstrings
- Upper Back Stretch
Basic Calf Stretch
How to do it: Stand in front of a wall or a box. Push your toes up against the wall while keeping the heel firmly on the floor.
Keep the leg straight and hold for 30-45 seconds. Then, slightly bend your knee. In this position, you should feel the stretch closer to your Achilles area. Hold for another 30-45 seconds and repeat on the other leg.
Hamstring Stretch on a Bench or Box
How to do it: Find a box or a bench that you can put your leg up on. The height of the surface will vary—if you’re fairly flexible, a surface as high as your waist or higher will work great. If you aren’t as flexible yet, start with a lower surface.
Stand in front of the bench or box and put your leg up on it. Lean forward, reaching your hands out towards your toes. Keep your back straight, push your butt out behind you, tighten your core, and try and squeeze your quads to work towards straightening your knee. If your hamstrings are super tight, the leg on the surface can slightly bent, but ideally you want to get it as straight as possible.
Runner’s Lunge with Quad Stretch
How to do it: On a mat or soft surface, get into a lunge position, then drop your back knee to the ground. If your knees are sensitive, fold your mat in half to double it under your knee. Tighten your core and gently push into your front hip flexor. Hold for 30-45 seconds.
Next, lift up your back foot and gently pull it towards your butt.
If you can’t yet lift your back leg in the kneeling lunge position, stand up from the lunge, then bend your one leg behind you and lift it up by gently pulling it towards your butt. You can hold onto something for balance in this position.
Pigeon Pose for Glutes
How to do it: From a downward facing dog pose, bring your right knee forward between your hands. Put the right leg down so that the outer side of it is resting on the ground. Your left leg will be extended behind you. You can keep your chest up or rest it over the knee, depending on how flexible you are. Repeat on your left side.
Lizard Pose for Hips
How to do it: From a plank position, take a long step forward with your right leg, so that your both arms are on the left side of it. If you feel comfortable in this pose, you can try putting your forearms down so that you end up in the elbow plank position with your upper body. If you can’t get there yet, no worries—just stay on your hands.
Sinking the hips lower will deepen the stretch.
Pike Stretch for Low Back & Hamstrings
How to do it: Stand in front of a wall with your feet together, then lean over while crossing your arms above your head and pushing your upper back against the wall. Slowly slide yourself down the wall while keeping your legs straight. For a deeper stretch, take a step closer to the wall and bring your head as close to the floor as possible.
Modification: If this pose is too difficult right now, you can do a similar stretch on the floor. Sit down with your legs extended in front of you. Keep your back straight, then lean forward. It’s okay to bend your legs slightly for now if your hamstrings are very tight.
Upper Back Stretch
How to do it: Grab hold of a door handle, countertop, or something similar that won’t move when pulling on it. Stand in front of it and hold it firmly with your both hands as you pull back slightly. Let the butt drop, extend the arms and feel the stretch through all the back. The closer your feet are to the door, the deeper the stretch will be.