Stretching is an essential component of both exercise and health, it improves muscle development, increases range of motion and can reduces your chances of an injury.
Stretching not only helps to save you from injury and maintain flexibility, but it also releases dopamine which makes you feel happier and more positive.
Below are some images thanks to Vicky Timón, a yoga expert and author of “Encyclopedia of Pilates Exercises.”
Remember: when starting to stretch for the first time hold stretch for 30 seconds and make sure you are properly hydrated.When done properly a stretch should feel like a gentle pulling sensation, if it hurts you are either pushing or pulling too hard. If it the pain continues get it checked out.
Work your pectorals by facing the wall with your thumb up. Slowly rotate away from the wall to stretch your chest muscle. Repeat both sides.
To work the hamstrings, start this position with one foot in front of the other. Bring your hands to your hips while keeping your back straight, and begin to bend from the hips. Repeat both sides.
This stretch works your soleus and gastrocnemius. Start out in a lunge position with your back foot slightly turned out. Bring your back heel to the ground to stretch your calf muscles. Repeat both sides.
This is another way to stretch the latissimus dorsi. Start on your hands and knees, then slowly bring your hips back until your forehead is on the floor. Arch your upper back and rotate your shoulders to stretch your lats and chest muscles.
To stretch your side deltoid, bring your arm across your body and lightly apply pressure to increase the stretch on your shoulder. Repeat both sides.
To stretch your forearm extensor, start by pushing your shoulder down and back, then externally rotate your shoulder. Once in position, apply pressure to your opposite hand and begin to stretch. Repeat both sides
This stretch works your psoas and quadriceps. Start in a half-kneeling position. Slowly bring your right hip forward, grab your back foot and squeeze your back glute. Repeat both sides.
Stretch the forearm extensor by pushing your shoulder down and back, and externally rotating the shoulder. Apply pressure with your opposite hand to begin the stretch. Repeat both sides.
This will stretch your glutes and external obliques. Lie flat on your back and bring one leg across your body. Slowly rotate your upper body in the opposite direction. Repeat both sides.
This stretch highlights the adductors. Start in a seated position and bring the soles of your feet together and sit tall. Place pressure on your knees with your hands. Bring your feet farther from your hips and slowly round your body to release your back muscles.
This is another stretch for the adductors. Start with both feet forward in a wide stance, and slowly walk your hands to your right foot while bending your right knee and rotating your left toes to the ceiling. repeat both sides. Tip: to get a slightly different stretch place outstretched foot flat on the ground with toes at a right angle.
This is a deep groin stretch that works the adductors. Start by resting on your hands and knees and slowly widen your knees until you feel stretching in your groin muscles. Move your hips back and forward to feel slight variations.
To work the SCM, place your hands on your hips while keeping your spine long and tilt your head back. Repeat both sides.
Stretch the SCM and upper trapezius by keeping your neck long and slowly dropping your ear to your shoulder. Repeat both sides.
This stretch highlights your sternocleidomastoid or SCM. Keep your neck as long as possible while slowly dropping your ear to your shoulder. You can progress this stretch by being seated on a chair and grabbing the bottom of the seat. Repeat both sides.
To stretch the SCM, slowly rotate your neck while keeping your chin elevated. For a deeper stretch, apply pressure with the hand opposite from the direction you are rotating. Repeat both sides.