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When it comes to physical characteristics, flexibility is probably the last thing on a man’s priority list, since most men would undoubtedly rather have a six-pack or ripped arms before being able to touch their toes. What these men don’t realise is the importance of flexibility in their muscles as if you lack flexibility, it can hinder results in the gym and also lead to injuries. Some will attempt to warm up before their workouts but, more often, fail to stretch afterwards. Simply bending over and touching your toes is not going to do the trick. Here are some basic stretches, from head to toe, which are best suited for men.
For the neck – neck rolls
Take your chin towards your chest (tuck it in) and roll your head gently from side to side, bringing the ear toward the shoulder. Do not let your head go backwards, only from the one side to the other. Be careful – says certified Iyengar Yoga teacher and licensed physical therapist, Julie Gudmestad – not to hyperextend your neck during this stretch as this could cause severe damage.
For the upper and lower back – cat and camel stretch
This is a pose from yoga, but so good for the upper and lower back. It definitely qualifies as one of the best stretches for men. Get on your hands and knees and make sure that your spine is in neutral. Inhale and while you exhale arch your back by slightly tilting your head backwards (“camel”). Inhale, bringing your back to neutral spine, and exhale again while rounding your spine and bringing your head towards the space between your arms (“cat”) and inhale to return back to a neutral position.
For the glutes – lying glute stretch
Lie flat down on your back with your feet flat down on the floor. Now cross one ankle across the opposite knee. Grasp the thigh of the opposite leg and pull your leg towards you. You should feel a stretch in the opposite buttock. Hold the stretch for between 20 to 30 seconds and change legs. The reason the lying glute stretch qualifies as one of the best stretches for men is that it can help improve flexibility, relieve back, hip and knee pain and prevent injuries.
For the hip flexors – kneeling hip flexor (and quadriceps) stretch
Kneel with one foot on the floor in front of you and the other foot on the floor behind you. Keep the back in neutral spine and lean forwards. You should feel the stretch in the hip flexor and quadriceps of the front leg. Hold the stretch for between 20 to 30 seconds and change legs.
For the hamstrings – seated forward bend
Sit flat on the ground with both legs straight out in front of you, now slowly bend forward reaching for your toes without bending your knees. Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds.
For the quadriceps – standing one leg quadriceps stretch
Stand tall and balance on one leg, taking hold of your ankle with the other hand and pulling your foot towards your glutes. Keep the pelvis neutral position. Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds and change legs.
For the calves – standing calf stretch
Take a staggered stance and place your hand against the wall and lean forward while your front leg is bent and the back leg is straight out in front of you. Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds and change legs.
Try to run through all of them if you have time. You will find that you can get a better stretch the second time around.
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