Stretching before exercise is a great way to warm up your muscles and prevent injuries. Stretching is also valuable on its own: after doing these stretches for a week or two, you will be surprisingly more flexible all the time.
Hamstring Stretch (Above): Sit on the floor with your legs positioned as shown. Reach forward along the extended leg until you feel a gentle stretch in your hamstrings, the muscles in the back of your thigh. Flex from the hips and keep your back straight. Hold, then repeat with the opposite leg.
Single-Knee-to-Chest Pull (Below): Lie on your back with both knees bent and both feet flat on the floor. Grip your right leg and pull your thigh toward your chest, then extend the knee toward the ceiling. Hold, then repeat with the opposite leg.
Calf Stretch (Below): Stand about two feet from a wall. Step forward with your right foot, bend your right knee, and extend your left leg behind you. Keep your back straight and aligned with the extended leg. Put your hands on the wall and lean forward, keeping both heels on the floor, until you feel your left calf muscle stretch. Hold, then repeat with the opposite leg.
Trunk Twist (Below): Sit on the floor, with your legs crossed as shown. Rotate at the hips and look behind you. Keep your back straight and point the toes of the extended foot toward the ceiling . Hold, then switch leg positions and repeat.
Shoulder Stretch (Pictured in “Workouts at Work,” ): Stand up straight, with your shoulders relaxed. Put your arms behind your back and clasp your hands. Lock your elbows and lift your arms until you feel a stretch in your arms, chest, and shoulders. Keep your shoulders down and as relaxed as possible. Hold. This stretch should be done without bending forward, and it should be avoided by those with shoulder problems or stiffness.
Hip and Thigh Stretch (Not pictured): Squat down so that your right leg is in front of you-forming a 90° angle, with your right knee directly above your right ankle-and your left leg extends behind you, with your left knee touching the floor. Press your pelvis
forward and downward, holding the stretch for several seconds. Repeat with your right leg back.
Side-to-Side Neck Stretch (Not pictured): Gently push your right ear toward your right shoulder, then bring your head back to an upright position. Next lower your left ear toward your left shoulder. Do so without rolling from side to side.