Studies about the benefits of stretching are mixed, but one thing that’s not in question is that stretching improves flexibility, which may improve your performance. Better flexibility can decrease your risk of injuries by helping your joints move easily through their full range of motion. Here are five easy stretches you can do before a workout, hike, or just to start your day.
NECK: Lower your right ear to your right shoulder. Lift your right arm and gently apply pressure with your left palm to the left side of your head increasing the stretch to your neck. Your left arm should dangle at your side with finger tips pointing toward the ground. Repeat on the other side.
Your “Quads” (quadriceps) are actually a muscle group. They’re not just one muscle, but four muscles, each contributing to the extension of your knee joint and the flexing of your hip. The quad muscles are crucial in running, squatting and jumping.
The quads are anatomically located in the anterior (front) compartment of the thigh. The quad muscle group is made of up of three large muscles: vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, vastus intermedius, and the smaller rectus femorus. Vastus lateralis is on the outside of the thigh, medialis on the inside, rectus femoris is on top, and intermedius is in the center hidden below the rectus femoris.
The quadricep muscles originate at the ilium (upper part of your hip bone) and femur (thighbone) and come together in a tendon around your patella (kneecap) and then attach to your tibia (shinbone).
Muscle strain happens when the tiny fibers that make up muscle and/or tendon begin to tear, mostly due to overextension or unnatural movements. These small tears can happen during normal daily activities, during sports, when lifting things, or while performing routine or repetitive tasks. They typically happen as a result of overuse, inadequate rest breaks during intensive training or sporting activities, or through over stretching or excessive muscle contraction.
A sprain, by comparison, is a stretch or tear of a ligament (the connective tissue that joins one bone to another). Sprains typically happen when you land on an outstretched arm, jump and land on the side of your feet, or run on an uneven surface.