Everyday our bodies are under stress from exercise, long hours spent commuting, lugging heavy equipment around or being sedentary at a desk chair for hours on end.  That leaves our muscles aching for a little more flexibility.  The importance of stretching pre- and post-workout is often overlooked because it doesn't seem necessary until you roll out of bed one morning with rigamortis and have to walk around all day like a zombie from "Thriller."  Too often the emphasis is placed on our workouts, rather than the exercises necessary to prep and cool down our bodies after giving our parts a pounding.  Stretching increases the rate in which oxygen rich blood flows to our muscles and organs, which results in better circulation, plus aid in mobility and injury prevention. Say sayonara to your chiropractor, because the only adjustments you will be needing is to add these stretches to your schedule.

*Insider's tip: taking a hot shower prior to these stretches will help loosen the muscles and allow for a greater range of motion.

Four on the Floor.  The majority of Americans are full-time desk jockeys.  Remember that time your body felt loose and limber after leaving an eight-hour shift at your desk job?  Yeah, me neither.  Sitting all day causes serious stress to the hip joints, causing them to feel tighter than my pants after grandma's Christmas dinner. If you are sitting pretty all the livelong day, it's time to introduce the Figure Four stretch into your life.  This stretch is versatile in that it can be performed seated, or on the floor.

A.) Seated - Cross one leg over the other with the ankle resting at the top of the knee.  Apply gentle pressure to the knee of the crossed leg, and hold for thirty-seconds.  Repeat this exercise on the opposite leg.

B.) On the Floor - With the body in a supine position, cross one leg over the other in a similar fashion to the chair stretch.  Connect both hands behind the hamstring of the supporting leg, and pull in at the thigh until you feel pressure on the crossed leg's hip.  Keep the upper body relaxed throughout the stretch.  Hold for thirty-seconds and then repeat on the opposite side.

Targets the hips, glutes, hamstrings and lower back.

Stiff as a Board.  Are your tight muscles becoming a real pain in the neck?  Whether you are experiencing neck discomfort from an awkward sleeping position or from hyperextending your neck at work, here are a few stretches that will relieve the tension and improve your posture.

A.) With your feet flat on the ground, rest your hand on the opposite side of your head.  Apply light pressure and pull the head laterally down until the ear comes close to the shoulder.  At the same time, press down on the opposite shoulder to increase tension on the neck.  Hold for twenty-to-thirty seconds and repeat on the other side.

B.)  Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and grasp your left wrist with your right hand behind your back.  Taking a deep breath, allow your right hand to pull on the left arm until it is straight.  Slowly lower your right ear down to your shoulder.  Hold for thirty-seconds and repeat on the opposite side.

Targets the neck, back and shoulders.

Let Loose.  Depending on your range of motion, the following exercise may sounds like a real stretch.  It is important to ease into each exercise rather than applying heavy force or performing any jerky motions, in order to prevent injury.

A.)  Sit on the floor and take a deep breath.  This allows your body to sit tall and maintain proper posture.  With the knees bent out to the side, press the soles of your feet together and grasp your feet or ankles with your hands.  Keeping your core activated, slowly lower your upper body towards the ground and hold for sixty-seconds.  Slowly release and perform this stretch two more time.

Targets the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, back and neck.

Just because your schedule is inflexible, doesn't mean your body has to be, too.

Earn it.

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