- 1 TIMOTHY 4:8

Proper warm-up is the most important part of any exercise and is often under-estimated or overlooked entirely. I typically stretch before and after every workout. That said, there's a difference between light stretching and heavy stretching. Light stretching is good for a warm up as it loosens up muscles and gets them ready to perform. Heavy stretching is good after your workout to stretch out your muscles after heavy activity. Over time, your flexibility should increase.

I am certainly no expert when it comes to stretching. I played baseball from the time I was old enough to hold a bat and I competed in collegiate pole vault. I never stretched before or after any sort of exercise. Now I wish I had. Since taking up parkour, I've begun stretching daily as per the suggestions of my chiropractor and my massage therapist, and I've seen remarkable gains in my performance. It seems that every muscle pull I experience is due to improper warm-up.

Lying Back Groin Stretch
Relax with your knees bent and the soles of your feet together. This comfortable position will stretch your groin. Hold for 30 seconds.

Hip Twist Groin Stretch
From the lying back groin stretch, gently rock your legs as one unit back and forth, 10-12 times. These are real easy movements of no more than 1 inch in either direction. Initiate movements from the top of hips. This will gently limber up your groin and hips.

Bent Leg Crossover Hip Stretch
After gently stretching the groin, bring your knees together and rest your feet on the floor. Lift the left leg over the right leg and from here, use your left leg to pull your right leg toward the floor until you feel a good stretch. Stretch and relax. Keep your upper body, shoulders and elbows flat on the floor with your head resting in your hands. The idea is not to touch the floor with your right knee, but to stretch within your limits. Hold for 30 seconds. Breathe easily. Repeat stretch for other side, crossing right over left and moving legs down to the right.

Knee Pull Hip Stretch
Gently pull your right knee toward your chest, then pull the knee across your body toward your left shoulder to create a stretch on the outside of your right hip. Hold an easy stretch for 15-20 seconds. Do both sides.
Crossover Knee Pull Hip Stretch
Lie on your back. Bend your right knee and put the outside of your right lower leg just above your left knee. With your hands just below your left knee, gently pull your leg toward your chest until a stretch is felt in your right buttocks area (piriformis). Hold for 15-20 seconds. Lift the back of your head off the ground and look straight ahead as you stretch. Breathe slowly and deeply. Repeat for other side.
Leg Crossover Hip Stretch
Bend your leg and, with your opposite hand, pull that bent leg up and over your other leg as shown. Turn your head to look toward the hand of the arm that is straight (head should be resting on the floor). Make sure the back of your shoulders are kept flat on the floor. Using your hand on your thigh (resting it just above the knee), pull your bent leg down toward the floor until you get the right stretch feeling in your lower back and side of hip. Keep feet and ankles relaxed. Hold a comfortable stretch for 30 seconds, each side.

Butterfly Stretch
Put the soles of your feet together with your heels a comfortable distance from your groin. With your hands around your feet, slowly contract your abdominals to assist you in flexing forward until you feel an easy stretch in the groin. Make your movement forward by bending from the hips and not from the shoilders. If possible, keep your elbows on the outside of your lower legs for greater stability during the stretch. Hold a comfortable stretch for 20-30 seconds. Exhale as you go forward. Breathe rhythmically during the stretch.

Calf Stretch
Keep one leg straight while you lean into a stationary object, a wall, lamp post, etc. Keep your back heal on the ground while you stretch your calf. Repeat for other leg.
Heal Stretch
Use a similar position as the calf stretch. This time bend your back leg, yielding a stretch of your lower calf and Achilles tendon.
Squat Stretch
Lower your hips into a squat position. Your feet should be angled to each side allowing a comfortable crouch.

I use this stretch more than any other as I often battle with tightness in my lower back due to an injury from 1990.

Side Stretch
From a standing position, stretch each side of your core.


ACT Wellness Center - Dr. Carmelo F. Caratozzolo DC - Stretching: Focus on Flexibility

Stretching and Flexibility by Brad Appleton