5 Exercises to Help Improve Strength and Flexibility

Overexertion, knee injuries, tennis elbow, and hamstring strains are among the most common injuries in the United States, and many of them can be prevented.

The multidisciplinary team of functional medicine specialists, chiropractors, and physical therapists at Allied Integrative Health & Wellness in Cleveland, Ohio, helps people of all ages live life to the fullest, and that includes staying physically fit.

When your body is strong and healthy, you reduce the risk of common injuries that prevent you from participating in the activities you enjoy. Learn about five exercises you can do to help improve your overall strength and flexibility.

Bridges strengthen your core and make other exercises easier

When you have core strengthstrong abdominal and lower back musclesyou provide better overall support for your body. A strong core means it’s easier to do many other physical exercises and activities.

Most people know how to do a crunch or sit-up, but how about a bridge? Bridge exercises can improve your core strength for several muscles around your midsection all at once.

Here’s how: Stretch out on the floor, flat on your back, and bend your knees while keeping your feet flat on the floor. Tighten your abdominal muscles and slowly raise your hips off the floor until they are in line with your knees and shoulders. Hold for three deep breaths, then gently lower your hips to the floor. Repeat several times, increasing repetition as you build strength.

Lunges stretch your glutes, hamstrings, thighs, and groin

Since flexibility is one of the essential elements of preventing injury, especially while playing on a sports team, or for leisure and exercise, it’s important to stretch your legs before you begin.

Lunges target nearly all of your lower body muscles, stretching and strengthening them at the same time. Plus, as an added benefit, if you do a series of lunges at a fairly quick pace, you increase your heart rate and get the blood flowing to improve circulation.

Here’s how: Stand up straight with your legs together. Step your right leg forward 2-3 feet, bending your knee at a 90-degree angle over your toe. Keep your left leg stretched out straight behind you. Hold for five seconds, then switch legs. Repeat several times on each side, making sure your upper body is in line with your hips.

As a variation, you can also bend your back leg and lower your knee toward the floor to stretch your quadricep (thigh) muscles.

Push-ups strengthen your chest, arms, shoulders, and abs

Did you know that such a simple exercise could be so beneficial? Like lunges work out your lower body, push-ups build strength in the muscles of your upper body, including:

You can do a standard push-up on your toes, or a modified version on your knees. Either way, with repetition, you build strength in your upper body.

Here’s how: For a standard push-up, start in the plank position with your palms on the floor directly under your shoulders. Tighten your abs, keep your back flat, and lower your body to the floor as you bend your elbows. Just before your chest touches the floor, straighten your elbows to push your body back up to plank. Repeat as many times as you can.

A simple standing hamstring stretch increases flexibility

A simple stretching movement may not seem like a very challenging exercise, or something as beneficial as a cardio workout, but stretching increases flexibility and releases tension.

A standing hamstring stretch in which you bend forward to touch your toes can help stretch your neck, back, glutes, calves, and hamstrings.

The more limber your muscles are, the easier it is to move through daily activities, like bending over to pick up dropped keys, without straining a ligament or pulling a muscle.

Here’s how: Stand straight with your arms at your sides, feet hip-width apart. Slowly bend forward from your waist as you exhale and lower your head toward the floor. You can touch the ground with your fingertips, or wrap your arms around the back of your legs. Hold the stretch as long as you feel comfortable, breathing deeply. Bend your knees and slowly roll up to standing. Repeat a few times.

Hip flexor exercises strengthen and stretch tight hips

Most American adults sit for many hours a day, whether it’s on the couch, at a desk, or in a car. Hip stretches can relieve tension on tight hips and potentially prevent lower back pain, difficulty walking, and injuries.

One of the easiest hip flexor stretches you can do is the seated butterfly stretch. It’s a simple move that stretches your inner thighs, hips, and lower back.

Here’s how: Sit on the floor with your back straight and the bottoms of your feet pressed together in front of you. Your knees bend out to each side and toward the floor. Try to gently pull your heels closer toward your body while you relax your knees. Breathe deeply while holding the stretch for up to 30 seconds. Release and repeat.

Strengthening muscles and increasing flexibility are key components to keeping your body fit, healthy, and avoiding injury. Just a few minutes each day can make a big difference in the long run.

To learn more, or to get relief from an injury or back pain, call us at Allied Integrative Health & Wellness at our Cleveland, Ohio, office or request an appointment online.

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