Kudos to you for working out and exercising.  Whether you are out for a brisk walk, jog, bike ride or participating in strenuous activities or strength training, stretching before and after is very important. Our bodies and muscles work better when they are flexible and help promote a better range of motion.  It also helps prevent injury.  In fact, stretching should be part of your daily routine regardless of any exercise regime.

It is also important to stretch properly.  As part of our “5 for 2015″ series, below are series of five recommended stretches for the lower body.  They can be performed either inside or outdoors, on the ground or with the aid of a park bench.  Of course there are more stretches that can be done, but we want to make sure to cover the basics.

Start off slow 

Each stretch should be done for approximately 60 seconds.  Do 3 to 5 sets. Repeat on each side.

Hamstring Stretch

With one leg straight out in front of you and your toes point up.  Let the other leg relax on the ground.  Slowly lean forward to feel the stretch in your hamstring.

Don’t let you back arch too much.

Hip Flexor Stretch

Start in a kneeling position.  Slowly transition your body weight forward until you feel a pull in the front of the leg on the ground.

Don’t let you back arch too much.

Glut Stretch 

Lay on your back and put one hand on your outer knee and the other above your ankle.

Slowly pull your knee to your opposite shoulder and gently pull up on your hand over your ankle.

Low Back Stretch

Lay on your stomach. Press your palms on the surface to lift your upper body up.

Keep your elbows under your shoulders and your hips and pelvis on the surface. Make sure to keep your back muscles relaxed.

Calf Stretch

This exercise is deceiving and is much tougher than it looks.  Standing up right with shoulders back and arms at your side, close your eyes. Left one leg off the ground a few inches.  Maintain your balance for 5-10 seconds.  You will feel it in your mid-section. Make sure to breathe.  Lower your leg and repeat on the other side.

Please consult your physician or professional healthcare provider before beginning this or any exercise program. The advice given is in no way intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Discontinue any exercise that causes you pain, severe discomfort, nausea, dizziness, or shortness of breath and consult a medical expert. Start slowly and at the level that is appropriate for you. Not all exercise plans are suitable for everyone.

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