May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, a month to highlight the importance of promoting a healthy lifestyle and improving your quality of life. To celebrate this observance, look for opportunities to be physically active each day, recommended 60 minutes per day for kids and 30 minutes per day for adults.
At Central Indiana Orthopedics, we are big advocates of physical activity and keeping your body moving, but also of preventing injury. Dynamic stretching before physical activity is a great way to wake up your muscles, stay limber and improve your range of motion – all essential components of a healthy fitness routine. Most importantly, dynamic stretching doesn’t require any equipment, takes only a few minutes and can decrease your risk of injury.
Dynamic stretching is equally important to perform after you’ve completed physical activity. Read on to learn four dynamic post-activity stretches to incorporate into your fitness cool-down. You can even use these stretches in your pre-activity warmup.
Walking knee hugs are a great post-activity exercise to stretch your lower back, glutes, hamstrings and hip flexors. Start by standing upright with your feet facing forward. As you step forward, raise one knee up as high as you can into your torso and grasp with both hands. Maintain a tall posture and engage your core. Repeat and alternate on both sides for 30-60 seconds.
Single leg toe touch (deadlift)
This stretch engages the back of your leg and hamstring and creates strength and balance. Begin by standing on your right foot with your left foot slightly behind you, raised off the floor. With your arms stretched straight out to your sides, shoulder height (like a T), bend your right leg and lean forward while kicking your left leg back. Squat down to touch your left hand to your right foot, then come back up. Repeat on your left side. Alternate for 30-60 seconds.
Standing iliotibial (IT) band stretch
Start by standing and crossing your right leg over your left leg. Put your right hand on your right hip. Raise your left hand over your head and extend your stretch to the right. Hold for 30 seconds then switch to the other side.
Standing calf stretch
To stretch your left calf, begin by standing with your feet hip-width distance apart. Step back approximately 12-18 inches with your left foot and straighten your left leg. Keeping your left leg straight, lean forward on your right leg and bend your right knee, hold, then straighten your right knee until you are standing upright. Repeat the motion for 30 seconds, then switch to the other side to stretch your right calf.
Unfortunately, even when taking proper precautions, sometimes injuries still happen. Our orthopedic experts can provide individualized care to help get you back to doing what you love. If you find yourself needing urgent orthopedic care, visit one of our Walk-In Clinics, no appointment needed. To schedule an appointment, call 800-622-6575 or request one at ciocenter.com using our Chat tool.