Stretches have long been touted by fitness pundits as the holy grail of your exercise routine, and with good reason. Doing stretches can improve your range of motion, strength and joint mobility, thereby improving flexibility and preventing injury. It helps you wake up your muscles before a fitness routine and prevents muscle fatigue during fitness sets, such as weightlifting. 

Before stretching, remember to warm up the muscles first to prevent injury. 

These are the top five stretches to include in your routine: 

1. The Frog Stretch 

The frog stretch is an essential stretch if you’re looking to do any workouts that involve your thighs, hips or lower back. The stretch is designed to elongate the inner thigh muscles and relieve pressure in your lower back. With the increased range of motion, you reduce the possibility of becoming injured during squats and deadlifts. 

  • Assume the table pose, which is knees and hands on the ground with your trunk parallel to the floor and your hands under your shoulders.
  • Move your hands forward and ease your elbows to the floor, directly under your shoulders.
  • Press your hips down, with your knees sliding out to the side of your body. Only move as far as you can go. Hold the position for 30 to 45 seconds, and slide the knees back.
  • Repeat as many times as needed.

2. Standing Quad Stretch 

If you’re about to start leg day, you’ll want to make sure those quads are ready. Standing quad stretches allow you to engage the muscle, improve short-term mobility and stimulate blood flow. 

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Bring up one foot behind you, grabbing the ankle.
  • Pull up your foot toward the buttocks, and hold the stretch for 30-45 seconds.
  • Slowly release and repeat with the other leg.
  • Repeat as many times as needed. 

3. Hamstring Stretch 

Runners and those who do deadlifts can attest to the importance of hamstring stretches. 

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. 

  • Bend your torso over, keep your heels on the ground and point your fingers to the ground until your body is in a U shape.
  • Bend as far as is comfortable, and hold your position by grabbing the back of the calves or ankles. 

  • Hold the position for a minute or two. 

4. Tricep Stretches 

This is a great stretch to relax your posture and relieve tired triceps. 

  • Hold your arms above your head, and drop one hand down to touch the opposite shoulder, behind your head. 

  • With the other hand, grab the bent elbow, and pull it down as far as it can go.
  • Hold the position for 30 seconds, and switch to the other side. 

5. Heel Sits 

If you’ve ever experienced shin splints, you’ll understand the value of heel sits. 

  • Kneel with your feet flat on the floor.
  • Lean back and sit on your feet 
  • Hold this position for 30 to 45 seconds. 

  • Repeat as necessary.