Stretching is an essential component of both exercise and health, as it helps to maintain flexibility and range of motion in your joints. It is easy to forget to stretch before a workout, perhaps because we do not know exactly why it is that stretching is so important. Well, stretching improves muscle development, increases range of motion, reduces your chances of an injury and provides a warm-up for your muscles. When your muscles are more flexible, the body can perform activities and exercise with the correct form; therefore, stretching also helps to improve posture.
So stretching is important. But what stretches work for what muscle groups? Vicky Timón, a yoga expert and author of “Encyclopedia of Pilates Exercises,” created 36 beautiful illustrations to show you which muscles are affected by different stretches.
1. Camel Pose: Best reserved for those with good flexibility, the muscles highlighted in this stretch are the rectus abdominus and the external obliques. Sit on your heels and place your hands on your feet as you push your hips up and forward. Avoid putting too much pressure on your neck or spine.
2. Wide Forward Fold: This is a great exercise to open the hips while stretching the adductors and the hamstrings. Start this stretch with your knees bent. As your muscles begin to release, slowly straighten your legs, round out your back and reach for your feet.
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