The 7-Minute Flexibility Routine

March 30, 2013 | Dana Hammer

Must See Flexibility Videos

A flexibility routine should comprise a third of your overall fitness program. Stretching your entire body not only alleviates post-workout soreness but helps to prevent injuries—both extremely important for any athlete. (See How to Optimize Your Stretching Routine.)

Here are some quick stretches for flexibility designed for the entire body. The full sequence should only take seven minutes. (Check out 8 Stretching Mistakes.)

Note: Do not attempt any of these stretches if they don't feel right for your body or an injury prevents you from carrying them out comfortably and safely.

Neck Rolls

  • Begin standing with your feel hip-width apart
  • Roll your neck side to side in little half circles
  • If you find a spot with a knot in it,  hold it there and breathe into the knot
  • Otherwise, keep rocking side to side for a minute

Upper Body Stretch

  • Start with your arms fully extended in front, palms pressed together, fingertips facing away from you
  • As you inhale, open your arms out to the sides
  • Stretch your chest and arms, lifting your breastbone toward the ceiling
  • Keep pulling your shoulder blades back and together
  • As you exhale, take your hands back together in front of you with your arms fully extended again
  • Round your upper back and drop your chin, stretching your upper back and shoulders
  • Repeat several times for up to a minute, moving with your breathing

Side Bends

  • Still standing, with your feet about hip-distance apart and rooted firmly into the ground, lift your left arm up and reach overhead, fingertips pointing to the right
  • You want to feel an opening through your ribcage, lats and obliques
  • Hold for about 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side
  • Make sure you don't let your chest collapse
  • Keep your top shoulder pulling back toward the wall behind you

Forward Fold

  • From your standing position, fold forward, letting your head drop toward the floor
  • Pretend the top of your head and the floor are magnets, pulling toward each other; the goal is to stretch out your hamstrings and back
  • If you find this stretch too intense, bend your knees a little bit; if you want more intensity, take your hands to the backs of your calves and pull your nose closer to your knees as you exhale
  • Do not hold any tension in your neck or upper body; the weight of your upper body will help you to fold more deeply into the stretch
  • Hold for up to a minute

Cat/Cow

  • Come on to your hands and knees with your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hipbones
  • On an inhale, arch your back and look up, releasing your tailbone and stretching your abdominals
  • On your exhale, press into your hands and round your back, getting a dome shape in your upper back like a cat
  • Repeat a few times, moving very slowly, vertebrae by vertebrea, to stretch your spine from top to bottom

Quad Stretch

  • Sit back on your heels, stretching out your quads
  • If you don't feel a stretch, move your hands behind you for support and lean back a bit until you feel a stretch
  • Hold for up to a minute

Child's Pose

  • From an all-fours position, push your hips back toward your heels and rest your forehead on the ground
  • It's okay if your hips don't touch your heels as long as they're headed in that direction
  • Stretch your arms out in front of you
  • Assume the pose with your knees together or apart, whichever is more comfortable for you; the goal is to round the back, releasing tension from the spine
  • Hold for about a minute
Topics: STRETCHING
Must See
Patrick Willis' Homegrown Off-Season Workout
Views: 1,225,893
Why You Should Never Doubt Colin Kaepernick
Views: 20,402,997
Brandon Jennings: "Always Improve"
Views: 4,127,744

Featured Videos

A Day in the Life of NBA D-League Star Seth Curry Views: 68,738
Kevin Love's Cone Hop Basketball Shooting Drill Views: 8,003
Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 2: Laying the Groundwork Views: 131,367
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Perfect Dwyane Wade's Signature Euro Step
Views: 1,308,758
What Ryan Hall Eats for Breakfast
Views: 795,255
STACK Fitness Weekly: How To Do a Muscle-Up
Views: 778,651
Greg Nixon's Hill Training Program
Views: 705,761
Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift
Views: 1,561,460

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Dig Like a Pro: Exercises for Volleyball Mobility

Fast-paced sports, such as volleyball, require quick reactions in multiple directions. During reactive movements, athletes do whatever it takes to get...

Pre-Workout Warm-Up Steps You Can't Afford to Skip

Why You Shouldn't Stretch 24 Hours Before a Game

Increase Your Flexibility Without Stretching

The Yoga Warm-Up for Basketball Players

3 Yoga Twists to Keep You on the Field and Improve Your Game

The Ultimate Pitcher's Warm-Up: 4 Shoulder Exercises with Bands

Improve Your Squat With 6 At-Home Hip Flexor Mobility Exercises

Add Warrior Poses to Your In-Season Training

The Importance of Recovery Workouts

These 9 Exercises Will Improve Your Hip Mobility

Optimizing Energy Transfer in Your Lacrosse Shot

How Hockey Goalies Can Get More Flexible for a Better Butterfly

Build a More Powerful Golf Swing With These Mobility Drills

Dynamic Warm-Up Exercises Done the Right Way

Balance Exercises That Are Game-Changers

Find Your Effective Pregame Basketball Warm-Up

3 Tips To Make Your Stretching Routine More Effective

Green Bay Packers Discover Football's Fountain of Youth

Dynamic Warm-Up Exercises for a Safe, Effective Workout

Go the Distance With This Baseball Yoga Warm-Up

3 Exercises That Fix Common Baseball Hip Mobility Issues

Must-Have Additions to Your Baseball Stretching Routine

Best Exercises for Improving Joint Mobility

How to Release Muscle Knots and Trigger Points

Animal Flow Scorpion Reach for Injury Prevention

Fundamentals of a Pre-Workout Warm-Up

Mobility Training for Hockey Goalies

Flexibility for Cross Country From the Ground Up

The Best Stretching Exercise for You

The Most Important Muscle You've Never Heard Of

You're Doing It Wrong: The Warm-Up

6 Thoracic Spine Exercises to Improve Mobility

Reducing Tight Hamstrings without Stretching for Hockey Players

Stay Pain-Free With These Advanced Stretches

Why and When You Need to Change Your Pre-Game Warm-Up Routine

Are Tight Hips Slowing You Down?

How to Fix 4 Common Tight Areas in Your Body

Improve Your Balance with Stability Ball Exercises