Stretching before and after your workout is, undoubtedly, important. However, because everyone’s level of flexibility and limitations are different, it can be hard to achieve some positions and/or gain any benefits from them. That’s why fitness experts invented these helpful stretching tools.
If you find it difficult to get into or maintain a certain stretching position, there’s most likely an accessory that can help you. Gaining better control over your stretching routine will not only make it easier, but will also allow you to get deeper into certain stretches. One (or a few) of these simple stretching accessories can vastly improve your stretching routine.
How to Create a Stretching Routine
Again, stretching is incredibly beneficial for your muscles and joints because it improves your circulation and oxygen saturation. This keeps your muscle fibers healthy and strong, and ready to take on any strain or activity for years to come.
When you’re creating a cooldown stretching routine, it’s important that you work on the muscles you’ve used throughout your workout. This will help repair any microtears, as well as ease any lactic acid buildup and/or tension.
For example, if you went for a run, you would want to spend way more time stretching your legs than your arms. If you went to a boxing class, though, you would want to focus on stretching your upper body.
However, stretching is important even if you haven’t done any exercise at all. As most of us sit in an office all day, this often creates back pain. You can relieve this with a daily stretching routine, because, again, it’ll get more blood flowing to those areas that have been blocked all day while you were sitting in front of your computer.
A stretching strap is a simple, yet effective, way to get deeper into those hard-to-attain positions until your flexibility allows you to fully experience them on your own. It’s also a very affordable (most are under $20), versatile tool that reduces your risk of injury.
When used correctly, stretching straps give you better control over your stretch, more stability, as well as improved reach, and an increased range of motion. You can get a stretching strap with handles or without, although the former will give you more support and a much easier grip.
A Yoga Block
Yoga blocks are amazing stretching tools that will help you extend your reach and remain stable throughout your stretching. They can also help you cover more floor area than you can with just your hands.
The main thing, though, is they help improve your grip and balance as you push the ground away from you. Obviously, they’re ideal for yoga, but they can also help with any other exercise that requires your hands to be firmly on the floor.
A Yoga Wheel
Improving the flexibility of your spine isn’t an easy task. In fact, it can take years to make any real progress. Yoga wheels are a relatively recent invention that took the world by storm. Since then, almost every sports brand has come up with its own version of it.
Yoga wheels help stretch out your back muscles, while simultaneously providing a gentle massage and joint support. They help reduce the risk of injury and enable your back muscles to hold up better against any strain.
Also sometimes called a foot- or calf-stretcher, leg stretchers help improve your blood circulation and relieve any pain caused by injuries and conditions, such as plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, or ankle sprains.
It can support your entire leg while you stretch and give you more leverage, while you keep a straight spine and improve your flexibility in the healthiest way possible for your leg muscles. A leg stretcher is versatile, and usually, pretty affordable, making it an easy addition to your stretching routine.
Foam rollers help massage your muscles, reduce pain and soreness, improve your blood circulation, and decrease lactic acid buildup. When used correctly, foam rollers promote better passive stretching as improved blood flow brings more oxygen into the muscles, aiding flexibility and mobility.
There are plenty of different foam rollers on the market, from long and smooth ones that are perfect for beginners to those with different textures that get deeper into your fascia and even those with added vibration features.
A massage ball can get deep into those sore spots that need a bit more help releasing tension. Due to their small size and shape, massage balls are perfect for tackling sore hips, back muscles, and even specific points on your legs.
Releasing muscle knots also promotes blood flow, and with it, an increased range of motion and flexibility, so each stretching exercise you do will be even more effective. You might want to try both a smooth and texturized set and see which works best for you.
Massage balls are also really affordable (at this writing, this smooth Kieba set is under $13) and incredibly portable—just toss them in your gym bag.
Stretching is an important part of recovery after a workout, but sometimes, you might need a little help to get the full benefits. These simple tools can help you get into even some of the toughest positions until you build up enough strength and stability to do them on your own.