Here’s Why Core Stretches Are so Important If You’re a Plank Queen

Photo: Getty Images/Hello-Lovely
You stretch out your legs and arms after a hard workout. One thing that might surprise you, though, is that you should be doing core stretches, too. It seems like a weird area to stretch, but just like your other muscles, your core seriously needs it.

"The constant contraction of any muscle can lead to tightness—especially if you’re not balancing it by working the opposing muscle group or stretching—and your abs are no different," says Gerren Liles, Equinox master trainer and Hyperwear athlete. "Your core, like all muscles, need to not just be able to contract to generate power, but to recover and also be flexible enough to allow full range of motion."

"Tightness in your core—especially your lower back (don’t think of your core as just your six-pack!)—can lead to inefficient movement. And worse, potential injury," Liles says. A few easy core stretches will make sure you're able to perform at your best and avoid injury

Core stretches you can do regularly to fight tightness

1. Half moon pose to balance

Walk your legs out into a side lunge. Then, reach your arm down to your ankle, rotating your chest and torso up and out. Finish by extending your other arm straight above you and stretching through your side.

4 repetitions

2. Three-legged downward dog knee-to-nose

Move into the traditional downward dog pose, keeping your hips up and body weight rocked back on the balls of your feet. Then, slowly lift one leg up and back, before bringing it in towards your nose. Repeat and rotate with both legs.

8 repetitions

3. Kneeling scoop with press-up

Start on your knees and slowly bring your chest down to the ground, keeping your back concave, up into cobra pose. Then, "scoop" your back backwards while you move into child's pose. Go back and forth between the two poses, focusing on really "scooping" your back while pressing your hands into the floor.

8 repetitions

4. Plank with knee twist

Start in a standard plank position (either on your elbows or elevated on your hands). Then, bend each knee in and across your core, returning back to the plank position in between each twist.

8 repetitions on each side

5. Swimmer

Lay down on your belly, stretching your arms and legs straight out. Then, mimic a swimming motion by lifting and pulsing your legs and arms.

16 repetitions

Now let's move on to those hamstrings:

If your regular old ab workouts are starting to feel like a snooze, try adding a kettlebell. Then check out the ab moves that go above and beyond to work your entire body.

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