- Exercise & Fitness
How To Get Fit The Army Way: Stretches
Get Fit the Army Way-Stretches
Stretches for Muscular Strength and Endurance
There are several stretches that can be done for muscular strength and endurance but I will only cover just a few. The major stretches to be prepared for conditioning are: the abdominal stretch, the upper back stretch, the chest stretch, the arm and shoulder stretch, the over head arm pull, and the neck stretch.
Upper Body StretchesClick thumbnail to view full-size
Stretches for Muscular Strenght Exercises
The Abdominal Stretch
The abdominal stretch stretches you abdominals and your back. To perform this stretch interlock your fingers and raise them above your head so your palms are facing the ceiling. To start the stretch—simply reach for the ceiling while remaining flat on your feet, and lean back slightly. Leaning back slightly is less than one degree. Hold this position for a slow count to ten then relax, repeat if needed.
The Upper Back Stretch
The upper back stretch can be performed right after the abdominal stretch by moving your arms forward and in front of you. For a better stretch I suggest you reverse your palm direction and have them facing you. Next rotate your shoulders forward to really get a good stretch for your upper back. Again hold the stretch for a slow count to ten then relax. You can repeat when needed but never more than twice.
The Chest Stretch
The chest stretch is the exact opposite of the upper back stretch. Instead of holding your hands in front of you, you will hold them behind you. Place both hands behind your back and fold your hands together, then simply raise them until you feel pressure in your shoulders. Hold this position for a slow count of ten then relax. Repeat this as needed. An alternative to this method of the chest stretch is where you place your hands in front of you and fully extended, your palms will be flat and pressed together. Then just separate your hands until your hands are all the way out to the sides. Imagine your going to hug something large. In this alternate stretch keep your back straight and count a slow count of ten, then relax.
The Arm and Shoulder Stretch
The arm and shoulder stretch is conducted by placing one arm across your chest then grasping it with your other arm at the elbow to pull it in to your chest. Pull it in until you feel a slight pressure in your shoulder and hold for a slow count to ten. Next you’ll switch arms and repeat the same process for a slow count to ten. You can repeat when needed but once usually gets the stretch accomplished.
The Overhead Arm Pull
The overhead arm pull is done by placing one hand at the base of your neck then grabbing your elbow with your other hand and pulling it down until you feel a stretch in your shoulder. Count slowly to ten then relax. Switch arms and repeat the above process with a slow count to ten. You can repeat again if you choose but once should be sufficient.
The Neck Stretch
The neck stretch is performed by placing your hands behind your back and grasping one wrist with your other hand. Pull your arm downward and tilt your head in the opposite direction. I.E if you are holding your right wrist when you pull down your head will be tilted to the left, and vice versa.
At this point you can continue your work-out for muscular strength and endurance by clicking here.
Lower Body ExercisesClick thumbnail to view full-size
Cardio Vascular Stretches
Cardio vascular stretches need to be performed whenever you plan on running. The common stretches—abdominal stretch, and upper back stretch—need to be done no matter what kind of exercise you plan on doing. The following stretches are specifically for cardio type exercises. They are: the hamstring stretch, the thigh stretch, the calf stretch, and the groin stretch.
The Hamstring Stretch
The hamstring stretch is performed simply by bending at the waist and attempting to touch your toes. The thing to remember here is that you need to slightly flex your knees and absolutely DO NOT bounce. Maintain a steady and even pressure. Count slowly to ten then relax and perform again. The variation to this is by sitting on the floor and attempting to touch the floor. Always keep your legs straight out in front of you. Never perform a “hurdlers” stretch as this stretch can cause injury to your knees and hips.
The Thigh Stretch
To do the thigh stretch grasp one foot with one hand, pull the heel of that foot to your buttocks, and extend your other arm for balance. Count a slow count to ten then switch feet. Repeat this process if needed. It helps to balance if you focus on an immobile object.
The Calf Stretch
The calf stretch is done by standing with your feet together then moving one foot back about two feet, to start the stretch simply put your back foot all the way down and lean back slightly. You should feel a stretch as you lean back. If you don’t feel the stretch, then adjust your foot placement until you find a spot where you feel the stretching. Count a slow count of ten then switch feet. Repeat as necessary.
The Groin Stretch
You can do the groin stretch a couple of ways. One way is standing up. From the center position, I.E you are standing with your feet together, extend one leg at a 45 degree angle away from your body and lean over that leg. Make sure that your stationary foot stays planted on the ground. Hold that position for a slow count to ten then switch legs. The alternate stretch is while you are seated. The seated groin stretch is where you put your feet together and bring them into your body, while you are doing this you need to push your knees down with your elbows. Hold that position for a count of ten and then repeat but bring your feet in closer the second time.
The most important thing to consider while stretching for any exercise is to never bounce while stretching. Bouncing while stretching will cause damage to ligaments and tendons. The thing to remember most is that while you stretch you want a steady and constant pressure while you stretch.
Now you are ready to start exercising.
Muscular strength and endurance exercises
References: Army FM 21-20
Copyright 2009 bt Wesley Cox
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