How many times have you gone on a run or worked out at home and forgotten to stretch? It happens to everyone, but stretching isn’t just about improving flexibility! A consistent stretching routine keeps your muscles flexible, yes, but it also decreases the risk of injury. Tight muscles don’t function as well as limber muscles (as we all know, when we are limping around the day after a hard workout!). You will also be able to improve your athletic performance by keeping your muscles more elastic through stretching. Below are 10 stretches that will help you be more successful in your workouts!

1. Lower Back Stretch. (Lower Back, IT band, glutes) Lie flat on ground. Bring right knee up in line with right hip, let cross over to the left side keeping both shoulder blades on ground. Hold. Other side.
2. Hamstring Stretch. (Hamstrings) On back, one leg lifted. (use towel around foot to aid stretch) Hold. Repeat on other side.
3. Child’s Pose. (Lower Back, Shoulders) On floor, sit back on heels and stretch arms forward. Walk hands over to right and hold, then to left and hold.
4. Thread the Needle. (Shoulders) Still in child’s pose, tuck 1 arm under the other and rest head to the side. Reach fingers stretching through shoulder. Hold. Repeat on other side.
5. Downward Dog. (Shoulders, Hips, Hamstrings, Calves) Kneel with hands on floor. Lift the tailbone and bring the knees off floor. Bring the shoulders and the head down. Keep the knees bent at first, and then slowly bring the heels to the floor and straighten the knees. Lengthen the spine.
6. Pigeon Stretch (Piriformis/Deep Glute). From the top of downward dog, bring R leg forward with knee towards right hand and foot towards the left, sink down into the ground and relax hips. Hold. Repeat on other side.
7. Kneeling Hip Flexor (Psoas). Kneeling with one foot forward, one foot back, tuck tailbone under and lean forward into hip. Hold for 30. Repeat on other side.
8. Quad Stretch (Upper Leg) Standing up, grab one foot while balancing on other foot and bring heel towards butt. Press shoelaces into your hand and feel the quad activate and stretch. Hold. Repeat on other side.
9. Calves (Lower Leg) Stand on top of a step, stair or curb. Hang one heel over the edge of the step and let the calf stretch. Hold and switch sides.
10. Chest & Back. Use a corner or doorway for this CHEST stretch. Place hands on opposite sides of wall or doorway with elbows bent and forearms vertical. Keep head in neutral and shift weight forward. Hold. BACK: Lace fingers and turn them away from you and push away to stretch upper back muscles.

Like this blog post? Tell us your favorite stretch in the comments!