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The Art of Stretching: Lower Your Risk of Pain and Injury with These 30 Stretching Exercises

Whether you’re a daily exerciser or a chronic sitter, you must know that stretching is crucial. Stretching sends blood flow to your muscles and helps the joints move. It also improves your athletic performance and posture while lowering the risk of injury and pain.

When you’re stretching, do you know which muscles you’re actually stretching? How do you know that you’re stretching correctly?

This article will help you learn the best stretches for your goals. The stretches must be felt in the belly of the muscle. If you feel pressure on your joints, that means you’re pushing too far. While you’re stretching, focus on your breathing and move 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.

Vicky Timon, an exercise expert and James Kilgallon, CSCS, creator of Mazlo’s Body Maintenance Program, have created these amazing stretching images and explanations which we simply call “The Art of Stretching”. Take a look and enjoy while stretching!


1. Camel Pose

Muscles highlighted: Rectus Abdominus and External Obliques

This stretch is for people that already gave good flexibility. Sit on your heels and put your hands behind you. Push your hips up and forward. Don’t put too much pressure on your lumbar spine.

2. Wide Forward Fold

Muscles highlighted: Adductors

This stretch will help you open your hips and stretch the hamstring and adductors. Start with knees bent and spine straight. Slowly start to straighten your legs, round out your back and reach for your feet. Lightly pull on the bottom of the balls of your feet to release your calf muscles.


3. Frog Pose

Muscles Highlighted: Adductors

Rest on your hands and knees. Slowly bring your knees wider until you feel the stretch in your groin muscles.

4. Wide Side Lunge Pose

Muscles Highlighted: Adductors

Your feet should be forward in a wide stance with your legs straight. Walk your hands slowly to the right foot while bending your right knee and rotating your left toes up the ceiling. While doing all this, try to keep your right foot flat on the ground.


5. Butterfly Stretch

Muscles Highlighted: Adductors

Sit and bring the soles of your feet together. Place some pressure on your knees with your hands. The closer your feet get to you body, the more you’ll stretch your groin muscles.

6. Forearm Extensor Stretch

Muscles Highlighted: Forearm Extensor

Pack your shoulder down and back and then rotate it in order to stretch your forearm muscle. Apply some pressure to your opposing hand to begin with the stretch.


7. Lateral Side Flexion of the Neck

Muscles Highlighted: Sternocleidomastoid “SCM”

Keep your neck as long as possible while dropping your ear to your shoulder slowly. Make sure you’re not collapsing your cervical spine.

8. Neck Rotation Stretch

Muscles Highlighted: Sternocleidomastoid “SCM”

Slowly rotate your neck while keeping your chin slightly elevated.


9. Neck Extension Stretch

Muscles Highlighted: Sternocleidomastoid “SCM”

Place your hands on your hips. Keep your spine long and start to tilt your head back. Make sure you don’t collapse your cervical spine.

10. Lateral Side Flexion of the Neck with Hand Assistance

Muscles Highlighted: Sternocleidomastoid “SCM” and Upper Trapezius

Keep your neck long and start to slowly drop your ear to your shoulder. Make sure you don’t collapse your cervical spine.


11. Half Kneeling Quad/ Hip Flexor Stretch

Muscles Highlighted: Psoas and Quadracep

Start in a half-kneeling position. Slowly bring your right hip forward. Grab your back foot and squeeze your back glute.

12. Forearm Extensor Stretch

Muscles Highlighted: Forearm Extensor

Pack your shoulder down and back. Externally rotate the shoulder to stretch the forearm muscle. Apply pressure to your opposing hand to begin with the stretch.


13. Lateral Shoulder Stretch

Muscles Highlighted: Side Deltoid

Place your arm across your body. Apply some light pressure to your arm to increase the stretch on your shoulder.

14. Standing Assisted Neck Flexion Stretch

Muscles Highlighted: Trapezius Muscle

Stand with your feet together while keeping your spine long. Sit your hips back slowly and round your upper back. Tuck your chin into your chest at the same time.


15. Lat Stretch with Spinal Traction

Muscles Highlighted: Latissimus Dorsi

Take a firm grip on the bar and then lift your feet slowly off the ground. You’re supposed to feel a stretch in your lats and chest.

16. Lat Stretch at the Wall

Muscles Highlighted: Latissimus Dorsi

Place your hands on the corner of a wall. Keep your spine ling and push your hips out to the side.


17. Child’s Pose

Muscles Highlighted: Latissimus Dorsi

Start on your hands and knees. Bring your hips slowly back until your forehead Is on the floor. Arch your upper back and rotate your shoulders externally to stretch your chest muscles and lats.

18. Standing Calf Stretch

Muscles Highlighted: Soleus and Gastrocnemius

You can perform this stretch on the edge of a stair step or on a rack. Rotate your ankles, slowly, internally and externally to stretch your calf muscles.


19. Front Split

Muscles Highlighted: Psoas and Hamstring

Start in a kneeling lunge position.

20. Seated Forward Fold/ Seated Toe Touch

Muscles Highlighted: Hamstrings and Calfs

Sit and bend your knees if you have to. The more flexible you become, the more your legs will naturally straighten.


21. Single Leg Forward Bend

Muscles Highlighted: Hamstrings

Start with one foot in front of the other. Bring your hands your hips. Begin to bend from your hips while keeping the back straight.

22. Deep Squat

Muscles Highlighted: Glutes

Stand with your feet, shoulder width apart. Slowly lower yourself into a deep squat. Once you’re in squat position, bring your arms inside your legs and apply light pressure to the inside of your knees.


23. Seated Half King Pigeon Pose

Muscles Highlighted: Glutes

Sit and start slowly pulling your legs to your chest. Externally rotate your hip while keeping a straight spine.

24. Standing Calf Stretch at the Wall

Muscles Highlighted: Soleus and Gastrocnemius

Start in a lunge position with your back foot slightly turned out. Bring your back heel slowly to the ground.


25. Lateral Flexion at the Wall

Muscles Highlighted: External Obliques

Push your hips out the side while keeping your spine long.

26. Supine Twist

Muscles Highlighted: Glutes and External Obliques

Lay flat on your back. Bring one leg across your body. Slowly rotate your gaze and upper body in the opposite direction.


27. Lateral Flexion with a Dowel

Muscles Highlighted: External Obliques and Latissimus Dorsi

Keep your spine long and slowly push your hips out to the side. Keep your shoulders externally rotated.

28. Triangle Pose

Muscles Highlighted: External Obliques

Start with a wide stance with your front foot straight ahead, and your back foot at 90 degrees. Sit back into your front hip and place your hand on your front leg. Keep your back straight. While you’re rotating away from your front leg, keep your gaze on the hand that is in the air.


29. Chest Stretch At the Wall

Muscles Highlighted: Pectorals

Face the wall with your thumbs up. Rotate away from the wall slowly in order to stretch your chest muscle.

30. Assisted Chest Stretch

Muscles Highlighted: Chest and Latissimus Dorsi

Lie on the floor with your palms facing up. While your partner sits into a deep squat, you should feel a stretch in your lat and chest.

Source: lifehack.org