When starting out an exercise program, it's really important to do a warm up and cool down before and after exercise

When starting out an exercise program, it's really important to do a warm up and cool down before and after exercise.

This will help increase your flexibility, it will reduce the risk of injury and it will also help with your recovery, so you won't feel as sore after the session.

So a couple of simple stretches you might like to try.

First of all, the lower back stretch - so your hands on your hips, feet shoulder width apart and you just lean back feeling a nice warm sensation through your lower back.

You might like to hold that for 10-15 seconds and remember to breathe while you do so.

Secondly it's important to warm up the backs of our legs - so our hamstrings and our calves. A very simple hamstring stretch is finding a bench, one foot out in front, toe pointing up. You want to bend from your hips, keeping your back nice and straight so your chest goes towards your toe. You’re going to hold that stretch for 10-15 seconds, remembering to breathe and feeling a nice stretch down the back of your upper leg through the hamstring. And also remember to do both sides.

So after our lower back and our hamstrings, it’s really important to do our calf muscles as well. Find an object or a tree, push against the object and make sure your back heel is on the ground. The further back your heel is, the greater the stretch you’ll feel. Remember to hold for 10-15 seconds and then repeat on the other side.

And finally, the fourth stretch you should do, very simple again, the front of our thighs, the quadricep muscle. Using something to balance, bring one leg up and hold, keeping your body in a nice straight line, shoulders back, feeling the stretch through the front of your leg. Again, 10-15 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.

You might like to repeat these stretches at the end of the session and that will help you pull up a lot better and you won't feel as sore - and then you'll be able to do some exercise again in the next couple of days.

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Last updated: October 2015

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