A few exercises and stretches that won't take more than 10 minutes at the end of your workout session!
Text: Brinda Sapat; Illustrations: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
Men are predisposed to being less flexible thanks to their gender. Unless you have been a gymnast, dancer, a yoga enthusiast or have excess of elastin in your body, most likely your body is inflexible and stiff. Cramps, muscle pulls, strains and sprains, early morning stiffness, skeletal imbalance and joint problems are all symptoms of inflexible joints.
Make flexibility training a part of your workouts.
1. Oblique twists
Lie on the floor with your knees bent and feet off the floor. Place your arms out to the sides in line with your shoulders. Drop both your legs over to the right and just before they can touch the floor, lift them over to the left side. Do 10-12 reps.
2. Hip stretch
Lie on your back and bend both knees with feet on the floor. Now lift up your right leg and place the right ankle just near the left knee (on the thigh). Grab your left thigh with both hands and pull the right leg in towards your chest. Feel a stretch in the left hip. Consciously keep your head and shoulders relaxed on the floor.
Hold for 20 seconds as you try to pull it in further very slowly; and then switch legs.
3. Hamstring stretch with a towel
Lie on your back with your left knee bent and foot on the floor. Place the centre of a long towel on under your right foot. Hold on to the ends of the towel with your hands and raise the right leg as high as it can go.
Slowly pull it in further without bending the knee, holding for 20 seconds. Repeat with the left leg.
4. Diagonal squats
Stand with your feet hip distance apart. Now squat down towards the right by pushing out your right hip bending the right knee and extending the left leg. This will open up your right hip.
Go back to standing taking care not to jerk and lock the knees. Do 10-12 reps on the right and then repeat on the left.
5. Upper back hyper extensions with head rotation
Lie face down on your tummy. Place your hands near your shoulders and rest your elbows on the floor. Lift your head, neck and shoulders off the floor by squeezing your back muscles. As you lift up, turn your head to one side as far as possible.
Bring it back to centre as you come down. On the next rep, turn your head to the other side. Do a total of 12 reps. Focus on trying to lift higher with each rep as if you are trying to curve the upper back.
6. Seated inner thigh stretch
Sit on the floor with your knees bent and soles of the feet touching each other. Sit up tall and straight. Do not lean forwards or backwards and do not round the back. Hold on to your feet with your hands and slide them in; as close into your body as you can.
Consciously press the knees down towards the floor. Hold for 20 seconds.
7. Doorway chest and shoulder stretch
Stand with your forearms on the doorway. Step into the doorway with one leg and push your torso forwards, opening up the chest and front of the shoulder. Hold for 20 seconds.
Then do the same thing with your arms extended high up on the doorway.
8. Wall shoulder and arm stretch
Place your right hand on the wall keeping the arm straight and in line with the shoulder. Now begin to turn away from your hand as far as possible. Feel the stretch in the front of your shoulder and biceps. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat with the left arm.
9. Overhead triceps stretch
Sit on a bench or floor. Bend your right elbow behind your head. With your left hand pull the elbow towards the left. Keep your head lifted, shoulders pulled down away from the ears and chest opened up. Do not arch your back. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat with the other arm.
10. Hip flexor stretch with towel
Stand with all your weight on the left leg. Place the centre of your towel on the top of your right foot. Take the foot behind and hold on to the ends of the towel behind your hip. Now raise your arms up bringing the foot as high up as possible. Feel a stretch in the front of the hip and thigh while you feel a contraction in the back and back of the hip. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat with the other leg.