It may be summer, but as any good athlete knows, there is no offseason. So here are some stretches you can do on your beach vacation to improve flexibility and reap the benefits of outdoor exercise
You should never stretch a cold muscle, so do some light running or jumping jacks or whatever your favorite warm-up activity is before getting started.
Once you're warm, grab that leg! Do some basic stretches to loosen up your major muscles, like the traditional quad stretch where you stand on one leg and bend the other behind you, holding your foot or ankle.
Then hit the hamstrings by standing with your legs just wider than shoulder width apart and reaching down to touch the sand. Reach to the center and each side, holding for 15 to 20 seconds each. Make sure your neck is relaxed and not straining to look up. You can look at the ocean again in a few seconds!
You can now stretch the inner leg/groin area by placing your legs farther apart and crouching down all the way to one side, then the other. Hold the stretch for 15 to 20 seconds on each side. Make sure to get up slowly from this one so you don't tweak anything by popping up too quickly!
It's also a good idea to loosen up your ankles"”especially if you've sprained or twisted them before. Do this by putting just the toes on the ground and moving your ankle around in a circle 10 times one way, then 10 times the other. Then do the same to the other ankle"”all while taking in the beautiful ocean view. You can also sit on your beach towel and write "I love cheerleading" in cursive in the air with each ankle.
For your arms, you can do the overhead stretch where you grab your hand and pull to one side for 15 to 20 seconds, then the other side. A variation on this is to then grab your arm at the elbow instead of the hand and pull. This gives you a better stretch on your triceps. Then pull your arm in front of you across your chest and hold for 15 to 20 seconds before switching to the other arm.
Now you've stretched your main muscles, but why not take it a step further and improve your flexibility while working on core strength? Enter yoga. Don't be intimidated if you immediately picture someone standing on her head with her legs in all sorts of crazy positions. There are basic yoga moves that anyone from beginners to headstanders can benefit from, and doing it on the beach will increase the relaxation benefits!
Try the Warrior pose
to stretch your hips and strengthen your legs. It's like a lunge that you hold instead of repeating. Downward Dog
is fun to say, and it stretches your calves and hamstrings while strengthening your arms and core. This one feels amazing, and you can add extra strength training to it by doing leg lifts from the Downward Dog position. Just make sure you keep your neck relaxed and comfortable, not strained to look up. The Superman
stretches and strengthens your back so your ab-to-back strength ratio doesn't get too lopsided, which can lead to injuries.
Have fun, be safe, and don't be afraid to try something new! Let us know in the comments how it goes and what your favorite beach stretches are.