It doesn’t matter if you’re a chronic sitter, a daily exerciser, or a weekend warrior, you must know that stretching is a critical habit. With sending blood stream in your muscles and offering your joints help with moving through their full scope of movement, stretching enhances your stance and athletic execution while lowering your danger of torment and harm.
However when you do yoga or an adaptability schedule, do you know which muscles you’re really extending? On the other hand whether you’re performing every stretch accurately?
With this in your back pocket, you can pick the best stretches for your specific goals. Furthermore, if you ever feel torment — and I don’t mean stretchy sort of torment yet the “Whoa, something doesn’t feel right” sort of agony — you can pinpoint the muscle giving you inconvenience and modify your system to abstain from getting harmed.
If you feel pressure or strain on your joints, you are pushing a lot, so you should feel these stretches in the belly of the muscle. As you stretch, focus on your breath and move through these movements as naturally as possible.
Don’t worry about how long you’re stretching , focus on the feeling how your muscles relax and are back to their natural, resting lengths, which take 5 to 30 seconds for one muscle. If you think that you didn’t get anywhere with a specific stretch, try a different pose.
These illustrations were created by Vicky Timón, a yoga expert and author of “Encyclopedia of Pilates Exercises,” and James Kilgallon, CSCS, creator of Mazlo’s Body Maintenance Program.
- Camel Pose
This refers to: Rectus Abdominus and External Obliques. This stretch is reserved for people who already have good flexibility. Sit on your heels and place your hands behind you and push your hips up and forward. Avoid putting too much pressure on the lumbar spine. If you have problems with your neck problems don’t drop your head back.
- Wide Forward Fold
This refers to: Adductors. This is a good exercise to open the hips, and stretch the adductors and hamstrings. Bent your knees bent, and leave your spine straight. When your muscles start to release you can straighten your legs, round out your back and reach for your feet. Pull on the bottom of the balls of your feet to release the calf muscles. If you can’t reach your feet you can use a belt or towel. Also you can do this stretch lying on your back with your feet up the wall.
- Frog Pose
This refers to: Adductors. This is a deep groin stretch that can place pressure on your knees so it’s good to be on a soft surface. Start with resting on your hands and knees and slowly bring your knees wider until you feel a good stretch in your groin muscles. You can feel minor variations in the stretch as you push your hips back and forward.
- Wide Side Lunge Pose
This refers to: Adductors. Start with your feet forward in a wide stance and put your legs as straight as possible. Slowly walk your hands to your right foot while bending your right knee and rotating your left toes up to the ceiling, sitting into your right hip. Keep your right foot flat on the ground.
- Butterfly Stretch
This refers to: Adductors. Sit down and bring the soles of your feet together and sit tall through your sit bones. Place pressure on your knees with your hands. The closer your feet are to your body the more you will stretch your groin muscles. Put your feet farther from your hips and round your upper body to release your back muscles.
- Forearm Extensor Stretch
This refers to: Forearm Extensor. Start with packing your shoulder down and back. Then rotate the shoulder for the optimum position to stretch the forearm muscle. In this position apply pressure to your opposing hand to start the stretch. You can boost this stretch with touching the tips of your fingers together in a tea cup shape.
- Lateral Side Flexion of the Neck
This refers to: Sternocleidomastoid “SCM”. Keep your neck as long as possible while slowly dropping your ear to your shoulder, but make sure you are not collapsing your cervical spine. You can boost this stretch with being seated on a chair and clutching the bottom of the seat..
- Neck Rotation Stretch
This refers to: Sternocleidomastoid “SCM”. Rotate your neck slowly, while keeping your chin slightly elevated to isolate the SCM. If you like to get a profounder stretch apply pressure with the opposite hand from the direction that you are spinning.
- Neck Extension Stretch
This refers to: Sternocleidomastoid “SCM”. Place your hands on your hips, while keeping your spine long start to tilt your head back. But make sure you are not collapsing your cervical spine.
- Lateral Side Flexion of the Neck with Hand Assistance
This refers to: Sternocleidomastoid “SCM” and Upper Trapezius. Keep your neck as long as possible and start to slowly dropping your ear to your shoulder, but make sure you are not collapsing your cervical spine. You can boost this stretch if you sit on a chair and grab the bottom of the seat.
- Half Kneeling Quad / Hip Flexor Stretch
This refers to: Psoas and Quadracep. Start in a half-kneeling position. Slowly bring your right hip forward and you should begin to feel a stretch in the front of your hip. Take your back foot and squeeze your back glute to rise the stretch on your Hip Flexors.
- Forearm Extensor Stretch
This refers to: Forearm Extensor. Pack your shoulder down and back, then externally rotate the shoulder for the optimal position to stretch the forearm muscle. In this position put pressure to your opposing hand to begin the stretch. You can boost this stretch by touching the tips of your fingers together in a tea cup shape
- Lateral Shoulder Stretch
This refers to: Side Deltoid. Put your arm across your body and lightly place pressure to your arm to boost the stretch on your shoulder.
- Standing Assisted Neck Flexion Stretch
This refers to: Trapezius Muscle. Start with standing with your feet together. Keeping your spine long, slowly sit your hips back and round your upper back, tucking your chin to your chest at the same time.
- Lat Stretch with Spinal Traction
This refers to: Latissimus Dorsi. Take a firm grip on bar, then slowly lift your feet off the ground. You should feel a stretch in your last and chest. If you take your feet completely off the ground you will feel traction in your lumbar spine. Don’t do this stretch if you have recently injured your shoulder, and/or have impingement of the shoulder.
- Lat Stretch at the Wall
This refers to: Latissimus Dorsi. Place both hands on the corner of a wall or post. While keeping your spine long, slowly push your hips out to the side. Don’t do this stretch if you have lower back problems.
- Child’s Pose
This refers to: Latissimus Dorsi. Start on your hands and knees then slowly bring your hips back until your forehead is on the floor. You can bring your knees wider to get a better stretch in your hips. Arch your upper back and externally rotate your shoulders to stretch your lats and chest muscles.
- Standing Calf Stretch
This refers to: Soleus and Gastrocnemius. You can perform this stretch on a rack or on the edge of a stair step. Lightly rotate your ankles internally and externally to actively stretch the calf muscles.
- Front Split
This refers to: Psoas and Hamstring. This is an advanced stretch, so be aware if you have any kind of hip problems. Start in a kneeling lunge position. It will be good to have the support of a chair as your hip flexors and hamstrings release.
- Seated Forward Fold / Seated Toe Touch
This refers to: Hamstrings and Calfs. Sit into your sit bones and bend the knees if needed. As your flexibility improve your legs will naturally straighten. Keep the spine as straight as possible if you have back problems. You can also perform this stretch lying on your back with your feet up a wall.
- Single Leg Forward Bend
This refers to: Hamstrings. Put one foot in front of the other. Place your hands to your hips and while keeping the back straight, begin to bend from the hips.
- Deep Squat
This refers to: Glutes. This movement has a total effect on all areas of your body. If you have bad knees, or cannot keep your heels on the ground, practice your squat before proceeding. Start by standing with your feet shoulder width apart then slowly lower yourself into the deep squat. Once in position bring your arms inside your legs and lightly apply pressure to the inside of your knees, sitting into the hips and heels. You can also practice this position lying on your back with your feet against a wall.
- Seated Half King Pigeon Pose
This refers to: Glutes. Sit down and slowly pull your leg to your chest and rotate your hip while keeping your spine straight. You should feel this stretch in your glute.
- Standing Calf Stretch at the Wall
This refers to: Soleus and Gastrocnemius. Start in a lunge position with your back foot turned out. Slowly place your back heel to the ground to stretch your calf muscles.
- Lateral Flexion at the Wall
This refers to: External Obliques. Keep your spine long and slowly push your hips out the side. Don’t do this if you have lower back problems.
- Supine Twist
This refers to: Glutes and External Obliques. This is a great stretch for people who are trying to manage Sciatic Pain. Lay down flat on your back then bring one leg across your body, slowly rotating your gaze and upper body in the opposite direction. The key to this stretch is using your breath to open up your rib cage and sacroiliac joint and hip area without placing too much pressure on the lower back. If you find this stretch to be too difficult you can stack both of your knees on top of each other. Once in this position you will feel more of a stretch on the upper spine when the knees are higher, and more of a stretch on the lumbar spine when the knees are lower.
- Lateral Flexion with a Dowel
This refers to: External Obliques and Latissimus Dorsi. With your spine long, slowly push your hips out to the side while keeping your shoulders externally rotated. Don’t do this stretch if you have lower back problems.
- Triangle Pose
This refers to: External Obliques. Start with a wide stance with your front foot straight ahead, and your back foot at 90 degrees. Put your hand on your front leg or floor as you sit back into your front hip with a straight back. As you rotate away from your front leg keep your gaze on the hand that is in the air.
- Chest Stretch at the Wall
This refers to: Pectorals. Face the wall with your thumb up. Slowly rotate away from the wall to stretch your chest muscle. You should feel this stretch in the belly of the muscle. If you feel it in the shoulder joint you are stretching too far.
- Assisted Chest Stretch
This refers to: Chest and Latissimus Dorsi. Lye down on the floor with your palms facing up. As you partner sits into a deep squat you should feel a stretch in your chest and lasts. You will also get some traction in your spine from the stretch. Avoid this stretch if you have impingement of the shoulder.
- Seated Half Pigeon Variation
This refers to: Anterior Tibialis. Sit with your feet in front of you. Bring one hand behind you as you externally rotate your hip and bring one foot above your knee. Slowly lean forward, initiating the movement by hinging at the hips if you want to increase the stretch on your hip
- Supine Shoulder External Rotation Stretch
This refers to: Subscapularis. Lye flat on your back, bring your arm straight out to the side with your elbow at a 90 degree angle. Slowly bring the back of your hand to the floor. If you hand is far away from floor it means your rotator cuff and other muscles that control internal rotation are tight.
- Down Dog Variation at the Wall
This refers to: Pectorals and Latissimus Dorsi. Place yourself far enough from a wall or rack so that when you touch the wall your body becomes parallel to the ground. Move into this position by hinging at the hips and keeping your spine straight. Once in position, push your chest forward creating a slight arch in your upper back, stretching your lats and chest muscles. If you have tight hamstrings try bending at the knees.
- Assisted Chest Stretch Variation
This refers to: Pectorals. Start by lying face down on the floor with your palms facing down. As your partner pulls back on your hands you will feel a deep stretch in your chest muscles. Avoid this stretch if you have impingement of the shoulder.