Four stretches to help prevent injury

Finding time to stretch is crucial during any workout. This will improve the blood flow to your muscles, allowing your movements to become more fluid, while reducing the likelihood of suffering a strain.

If you're looking for stretches to keep injuries at bay, then try out these four suggestions.

1. Exercise your neck muscles

Neck pain is a problem that affects many people. Figures from The Work Foundation estimate as many as 44 million people throughout the EU suffer from a musculoskeletal disorder, including neck strain.

One of the most effective exercises to prevent neck injuries is the chin tuck. Stand with your back straight against a wall. Move your head backwards until it touches the wall and hold for five seconds. Repeat ten times on a daily basis.

2. Prevent leg cramps

Leg cramps can often arise during exercise, and not only are they painful, they can cause lasting damage. However, they can also be averted by performing a standing calf stretch.

Extend your arms at chest height and place your hands on a wall. Put one leg in front of the other and flex at the knee, with your other leg kept straight behind. Lean forward without bending at the waist. Switch legs and repeat.

3. Avoid lower back pain

Pain in the lower back is another common problem for the general population . In fact, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence suggests it will affect almost everybody at some point in their life.

One way of reducing the risk of back pain is by lying on your back, with both knees pulled towards the chest. Move your head forward, but stop as soon as you reach a comfortable stretching position.

4. Rotator cuff exercises

Many athletes face rotator cuff injuries, which can leave them out of action for weeks or even months at a time. Strengthening the muscles is one way to avoid these injuries.

Begin by placing your hand on your lower back, before sliding it up your spine as close to the shoulder blades as possible. Do the same with the other arm. It's not uncommon for one side to be better than the other!



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