The calf muscles get worked with just about every activity, from wearing heels to running. To avoid injury and keep your stiletto stride, these five stretches will lengthen tight, shortened calves just about anywhere. Click through and take note — you'll want to add these to your daily workouts! >
Before you feel completely guilty for rewatching the entire series of Breaking Bad, we have the tool to justify it: a basic rope. While you don't need to be a Boy Scout, this stretching tool is the next best thing you can give your body since that gym membership. How? Why? For starters, stretching is an integral part of any fitness routine to prevent injury and keep your muscles limber. Similar to a yoga strap, a rope makes for a convenient and inexpensive fitness aid that can be used anywhere.
While it's easy to pack in your gym bag, we recommend keeping it beside your couch as a reminder to take advantage of those commercial breaks. Use it to help ease the stretch in your shoulders with this pose and to assist with hamstring stretches for your next run. Try knotting the ends of a thick piece of rope (available at any hardware store) or the colorful Finis Fraid Nots Stretching Program ($20). Either way, you'll give your body a deeper and more effective stretch, no matter time or place!
Even on days when you can't seem to hit the snooze button enough, there are still ways to have one of your healthiest days yet. With your whole day ahead, it's the little things like hydrating and stretching that will add up to smart choices throughout the day. Keeping your health in mind, a consider waking up to any one of these 25 tips tomorrow morning!
- Hydrate: You've heard it time and time again, starting your day with water will help wake you up, kick-start your metabolism, and hydrate your body. Extra points if you add a lemon!
- Do yoga: A quick morning yoga sequence gets the body feeling stretched, limber, and ready to embrace the day.
- Pack your gym bag: Eliminate excuses by packing your gym gear so everything is easily ready to go for your afternoon workout.
- Lather up: Getting into the habit of putting on sunscreen each morning will prevent sun damage and decrease your chance of skin cancer.
- Pack healthy snacks: Packing healthy snacks will ward off hunger and prevent you from reaching for that 3 p.m. candy bar.
- Stretch: Instead of hitting the snooze button, take 10 minutes to stretch. It's a great way to energize your morning and ease away tension from the previous day or a funky sleeping position.
- Eat breakfast: It's true, breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it helps us concentrate, focus, and be productive. These 41 breakfast ideas should convince you.
For more healthy ideas, read on
Not being able to walk down the stairs in the morning is not exactly a perk of running, so to prevent post-workout soreness, stretching is a must. Short on time? Here's a quick five-pose yoga sequence to target all the major muscles worked during a good run. Repeat it through on the right side, and then again on the left.
Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
- Come into Down Dog, then step your right foot forward and rise into Warrior 1.
- Lower your hands and back knee to the ground. Hold here for five breaths, stretching through the hips.
- Pick up your back knee, balancing on the ball of the back foot. Crawl your right shoulder as far underneath your right thigh as possible, and plant your right hand next to the outside edge of your right foot. Hold for another five breaths, deepening the stretch.
Intense Side Stretch
- Lift the torso, tuck your back toes, and lift the hips up, straightening both legs. Draw your back foot in a few inches so there's about 3 feet between them. Plant your hands on either side of the front leg.
- Fold over the front leg, breathing deeply for five breaths.
- Stand on your knees and lower the hips, sitting in between your heels. If this is too much, sit on a block and stay here.
- Take a look at your feet and curl the arches around the curve of your bum, so your toes are pointing behind you and slightly toward one another.
- If you're sitting on the floor, shift weight behind you and lie flat back. Try to keep your knees as close together as possible to feel a deeper stretch in your quads. Lift your arms overhead and hold opposite elbows.
- Breathe deeply in this pose for five breaths, and then sit up.
- Sit with both feet together, knees out wide.
- Inhale with a straight spine, and exhale as you fold forward, pressing your elbows against your inner thighs to deepen the stretch.
- Relax your shoulders away from your ears and stay like this for five breaths. Then lift the torso up.
- Straighten out both legs in a straddle (or "V") position. Inhale to lengthen your spine, and on an exhale, slowly fold forward as far as you can with a flat back, making sure your toes and knees are pointing straight up.
- Keep your spine long, and avoid hunching. Rest your hands on your feet, your legs, or on the floor in front of you. As you feel your body opening up, work on lowering your chest toward the ground.
- Stay here for five breaths.
The psoas is a core muscle with a big job to do — and most people don't even know what it is! Traditionally categorized as a hip flexor, the psoas is attached to the lower spine and the thigh, and runs through the pelvis and over the hip joint. Every time you stand, walk, or run, your psoas is engaged.
If you're dealing with a sore back or knee pain, it could very well be a problem with your psoas; this muscle is often exhausted and shortened from overuse, or from sitting all day. Work to lengthen this elusive muscle and relieve tension in your whole body with the following poses.
Instead of hitting the snooze button in the morning, take the extra 10 minutes to stretch. It's a great way to energize the morning and ease away any stress or tension from the previous day or a funky sleeping position.
Since stretching before breaking a sweat is debatable, keep morning stretches simple. Try this easy stretching sequence when you wake up tomorrow to get your blood flowing and your body primed for the day.
Lower back pain can be quite painful and debilitating to a daily routine. If you have ever suffered from painful squeezing, pinching, or tightness of the lower back, these three stretches act as both a relief and a preventive measure for this not-so-friendly feeling.
The cat and cow stretch is a great way to warm up your spine, loosening tension in your lower back. If you aren't familiar with this stretch, it is fairly easy to do and feels great. Here's how:
- Begin with your hands and knees on the floor. Make sure your knees are under your hips and your wrists are under your shoulders. Begin in a neutral spine position, with your back flat and your abs engaged.
- As you inhale, arch your back and lift your head and tailbone. This part of the stretch is called cow.
- With an exhale, round your spine up to the ceiling, pulling your abs toward your spine, and simultaneously tuck your tailbone and tuck your chin toward your chest. This part is known as cat.
- Continue flowing back and forth from cat to cow, breathing deeply so as not to rush each movement.
Stretching out the quads is a must do after hiking, cycling, running, stair-stepping, or any other activity that gives your thighs a workout. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to stretch these muscles, including these five.