Muscle stretches are an essential component of exercise and health because it helps maintain flexibility and range of motion in the joints. It is easy to forget stretching before a workout, perhaps because we do not know exactly why stretching is so important. Stretching improves muscle development, increases range of motion, reduces the chance of injury, and provides warm-up for muscles. When muscles are more flexible, the body can perform activities and exercise them in the right way; Therefore, stretching also helps to improve posture.
34 Essential Muscle Stretching Exercises
So muscle stretching is important. But which stretches work for which muscle group? Vicky Timon, a yoga expert and author of the “Pilates Exercises,” created 34 beautiful illustrations that show you which muscles are affected by different stretches.
1. Camel stance
Reserved for those with good flexibility, the muscles that stand out in this stretch are the rectus abdominis and the external obliques. Sit on your heels and place your hands on your feet as you push your hips up and forward. Avoid putting too much pressure on the neck or spine.
2. Long adductor hip stretch
This is a great exercise to open the hips, while stretching the adductors and hamstrings. Start this stretch with your knees bent. As your muscles begin to release, slowly straighten your legs, curl your back and try to reach your feet.
3. Frog posture
This is a deep groin stretch that works the adductor muscles. Start resting on your hands and knees and gradually extend your knees until you feel the stretch in the muscles of the groin. Move your hips back and forth to feel slight variations.
4. Lateral stance
This is another adductor position. Start with both feet forward in a wide posture, and gradually bring your hands to your right foot while bending your right knee and lift your left toes toward the ceiling.
5. Muscular stretching of the butterfly stretch
This stretch highlights the adductors. Start in a sitting position and join the soles of the feet and sit upright. Put pressure on the knees with your hands. Take your feet away from your hips and slowly curl your body to release the muscles in your back.
6. Stretching the forearm extensor muscle
To stretch the extensors of the forearm, start by pushing the shoulder down and back, then rotate the shoulder externally. Once in position, apply pressure on the opposite hand and begin to stretch.
7. Lateral neck flexion
This segment highlights the sternocleidomastoid or SMC. Keep your neck erect as long as possible while slowly pulling your ear toward your shoulder. You can progress this section by sitting on a chair and grabbing the bottom of the seat.
8. Neck rotation stretch
To stretch the sternocleidomastoid, slowly rotate the neck, keeping the chin elevated. For a deeper stretch, apply pressure with the opposite hand to the direction you are turning.
9. Neck Extension Stretch
To work the sternocleidomastoid, place the hands on the hips, keeping the spine elongated and tilts the head back.
10. Lateral neck flexion with the assistance from the hands
Extend the sternocleidomastoid and upper trapezius, keeping your neck long and gradually drop your ear to your shoulder.
11. Knee-Quad / Hip Flexor Stretch
This section works the psoas and quadriceps. It starts in an average kneeling position. Slowly bring the right hip forward, take the foot back and squeeze the gluteus back.
12. Forearm Extensor Stretches
Stretch the forearm extender, pushing your shoulder down and back, and rotating outward from the shoulder. Apply pressure with the opposite hand as the end point.
13. Lateral Shoulder Stretch
To stretch the side of the deltoid, bring your arm to the front of your body and lightly apply pressure to increase the stretch on the shoulder.
14. Assisted neck flexor stretches
This stretch will work the trapezius muscle. Start standing with your feet together. Hold the elongated spine, slowly bring your hips back and buckle the upper back, while pulling your chin toward your chest.
15. Dorsal muscle stretch with traction in the spine
To stretch the dorsal muscle wide, take a firm grip on a barbell, while slowly lifting your feet off the floor. Avoid this stretch if you have recently injured your shoulder.
16. Dorsal muscle stretching on the wall
Also for the wide back, place both hands on the corner of a wall or a pole. Keep the spine elongated as you slowly push your hips to one side. Avoid this stretch if you have low back problems.
17. Child pose
This is another way to stretch the dorsal width. Start at your hands and knees, then slowly put your hips back until your forehead is on the floor. Bow the upper back and rotate the shoulders to stretch the breasts and chest muscles.
18. Calf Stretch
To work soleus and gastrocnemius, perform this stretch on the edge of a step of the ladder. Slightly lift the tips of the feet to actively stretch the calf muscles.
19. Front Split
It is an advanced stretch for working the hamstrings and psoas muscles. Start in a kneeling thrust position, and proceed with caution if you have any hip problems.
20. Sitting touching the toe
To stretch your hamstrings and calves, sit down and bend your knees if necessary.
21. Leg Curvature
To work the hamstrings, this position is started with one foot in front of the other. Bring your hands to your hips, keeping your back straight, and start bending from your hips.
22. Deep Squat
To work the muscles of the buttocks, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and slowly lower into a deep squat. Once in position, bring the arms inside your legs and lightly apply pressure inside the knees.
23. Sitting half of the dove’s posture
To work your buttocks, start in a sitting position and slowly pull the leg toward the chest, while turning your hip keeping the spine straight.
24. Calf stretch on the wall
This stretching works the soleus and gastrocnemius. Start in a position of thrust with the foot a little back. Bring the heel back on the floor to stretch the calf muscles.
25. Lateral flexion in the wall
To stretch the outer obliques, keep your spine straight and slowly push your hips to one side.
26. Supine spinal twist
This will stretch the glutes and outer obliques. Lie down on your back and put one leg over your body. Slowly rotate the upper body in the opposite direction.
27. Lateral flexion with cane
To stretch the outer obliques and wide dorsal, keep your spine straight and push your hips to one side while keeping your shoulder turned.
28. Triangle posture
These muscular stretches will work the external obliques. It begins with a wide stance, one foot forward and one foot backward at 90 degrees. Place your hand on the front foot as you bring your hip forward while keeping your back straight.
29. Chest Stretch on the Wall
Work the pectorals facing the wall. Slowly rotate away from the wall to stretch the chest muscle.
30. Assisted breast lift
To stretch the chest and wide dorsal, land on the floor with the palms facing up. Your partner will sit in a deep squat while helping to stretch.
31. Sitting half-posture of the dove with variation
To work the anterior tibialis. Sit with your feet forward and carry one hand behind you as you turn your hip and place one foot above your knee.
32. Stretch and external rotation of the shoulder in supine position
This will stretch the subscapularis muscle. Lie on your back and your arm straight to the side with your elbow at a 90 degree angle. Slowly bring the back of the hand to the ground.
33. Back and chest muscle stretches
To stretch the pectoral and back dorsal position far enough to be parallel to the ground. Support the hips keeping the spine straight. Push the chest forward creating a slight arch in the upper back; Stretch the breasts and chest muscles.
34. Assisted breast lift
To work the pectorals lie on your stomach on the floor with your palms down while your partner pulls back your hands.
In conclusion : Muscle stretching not only helps in an injury and maintains flexibility, it also releases dopamine which makes you feel happier and more positive. Now seems to be the perfect time to begin perfecting these movements.