Interesting ‘Superhero’ Stretches

by David Kingsbury

With the new Wonder Woman and Thor films out soon (and the actors’ body transformations making them look toned, sculpted and more gorgeous than ever!), it got us thinking ‘Why let the actors have all the fun?!’ so we’ve enlisted the help of A-List personal trainer David Kingsbury to show us how it’s done. With clients including Michael Fassbender, Hugh Jackman, Jessica Chastain and even Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth, he’s definitely the man in the know.


‘Stretching and foam rolling may not feel that superhero but lack of movement and injuries are even less heroic. Performing the ‘same old’ stretches day in day out can get boring but it’s so important. These stretches are brilliant for shaking things up a bit and will also ensure that your flexibility and agility continues to improve, helping to maximise your movement potential, whilst preventing you from picking up an injury on the way’ says David.


Here are David’s top stretches to keep you fit, flexible and with superhero agility to get you out of those scrapes in a breeze… Batman who?!

 

 

1. Foam Rolling


Stretches: Roll quads, glutes, lats, back, hamstrings and calves

Benefits: Test your superhero pain threshold whilst boosting performance mobility and muscle function.
 

How to: 

  • Use the foam roller to assist in releasing muscles.
  • Start at the lower portion of the muscle and work your way up and down slowly.
  • For lats: lean on your side on the roller with your lower arm lifted across your body
  • For quads: you can work inner or mid-thigh by adjusting your foot position.
  • For glutes: sit on the roller with one foot crossed over your knee. Roll the glute on the side of the foot elevated across by leaning onto this side. 

2. Kneeling Hip Flexor & Hamstring Stretch


Benefits: Help to reduce lower back pain, improve postural balance and maintain healthy hips.


Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

How to:

  • Kneel with one knee on the floor and the other foot in front with the knee bent.
  • Push your hips forwards and keep the back upright.
  • Hold for 10-30secs.

Kneeling Hamstring Stretch

How to:

  • Kneel on one knee and place your other leg straight ahead with your heel on the ground.
  • Keep your back straight and point your toes towards your body.
  • Reach towards your toes with one hand. (It’s not important to be able to touch your toes.)
  • Concentrate on keeping your back straight and your toes pointing up.
  • Hold the stretch position for 20secs min; then repeat with the opposite leg.

3. Pigeon Stretch & Spider Stretch 


Benefits: Open the hips and improve mobility whilst relieving tension carried in the glutes and lower back. 

Pigeon Stretch
Benefits: Stepping one foot through your hands while your hips are lifted into the air allows for a greater external rotation of the hips.
How to:

  • Bring your right foot to your left hand and place your leg down by bringing your knee to the right side of your mat.
  • The shin should be parallel with the top of the mat (or as close to it as possible).
  • Rotate your left thigh inwardly, ensuring that the front of your thigh is firmly on the floor. The left leg should also be in line with the left hip.
    (Tip: If needed, place a blanket or block under your hips to help get deeper into the pose.)
  • Fold forward from the hips, resting your forehead on a block (or on the mat) and extending your arms out in front of your body.
  • Repeat on other leg. 

Spider Stretch
Benefits: The Spider Stretch is also a great warm up move for lower body training sessions.
How to:

  • Start in push up position.
  • Drive your left knee up to your left armpit then place your left foot flat on ground outside your left hand.
  • Maintaining position and keeping your right leg straight, activate your right glute and push both hips forward until your right knee almost touches the ground.
  • Hold the stretch at point of tension for three counts; then shift your hips back and bring the left leg back to the start position.
  • Repeat on other side. 

4. Swiss Ball Chest & Lat Stretch


Benefits: Improve posture and shoulder health. Often the shoulders are internally rotated so get that superhero stance with this super pair.  


Kneeling Lat Stretch

How to:

  • Grab a stability ball and kneel down on both knees.
  • Place your right hand on top of the ball with your thumb pointing up and your right arm fully extended.
  • Adjust your body so that your left hand is supporting you on the ground and your shoulders and knees are at 90° relative to your body.
  • Gently lower your chest towards the ground, effectively extending your right shoulder until you feel a gentle stretch by your shoulder blade.
  • At the bottom position, take a deep breath out and pull your rib cage down.

Kneeling Chest Stretch
How to:

  • Use a stability/ Swiss ball and kneel down on both knees.
  • Position the ball beside you.
  • With your elbow at 90° and forearm parallel to the floor, place the forearm on the ball. 
  • Adjust your body so that your left hand is supporting you on the ground. 
  • Gently lower your chest towards the ground.

5. Deep Squat


Benefits: Deep squat flexibility is a terrific simple tool for boosting hip mobility and lower body flexibility.  
 

How to: 

  • Stand with a relatively wide stance and toes pointing outwards.
  • Squat down and hold the position. Go as deep as you can. 
    (Tip: Hold onto a chair/bench until you are comfortable doing it without one.)
  • Aim to perform a 30-60sec deep squat every day.  




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